Mexico came back from a disappointing loss in the Pan American Games Semifinals against Honduras to beat Uruguay by a score of 1-0 to claim the bronze medal. Mexico got an early goal and rode out the result to give Coach Jaime Lozano a medal. The medal means that Mexico has gotten a medal in football in each of the last eight Pan American games. The win, however, doesn’t take away the frustration from the result against Honduras, especially since the performance against Uruguay left a lot to be desired. Uruguay had numerous chances,and for the neutral observer, Uruguay deserved at least a draw and maybe even more. Coach Lozano will need to improve a lot, especially since in the tournament, Mexico failed to get good results against both CONCACAF teams, which might be a preview of their Olympic qualifiers.
Expecting a tough game from both sides, Mexico and Uruguay started in a very even match. Because of injuries and suspensions, Mexico was coming into the game with just four players on the bench. One of the few movies included giving Luis Malagon his first start as goalkeeper.
In the fifth minute, a terrible mistake by the Uruguayan defense gave Mexico the lead. Ulises Cardona sent a long ball upfield, and Gaston Alvarez misjudged it and failed to get to the ball. This allowed Paolo Yrizar to go through on a one on one against the keeper and then slotted the ball past him for the 1-0 lead.
Mexico came close to scoring again with a chance that was just cleared by a Uruguayan defender before Cardona could arrive. Then Uruguay’s keeper Sebastian Mele failed to get to a crossed ball, but no Mexican players got to it either before it was cleared.
Shortly after, a great play by Cardona was finished by Marcel Ruiz but his shot was saved incredibly by Mele. Uruguay reacted to the goal, and Mexico started to sit back and defend in a similar way to past performances.
Soon after, Mexico started to attack more and were close to another score off a corner kick when Johan Vasquez came close to heading the corner but just missed a ball that Mele had to clear.
Uruguay had their best chance when Malagon made a double mistake. First his goal kick went straight to Uruguay’s Leo Fernandez, who then proceeded to make a good long range shot that Malagon inexplicably stopped with his chest, almost sending it to his own net. In the final minutes of play in the first half, Yrizar fell down in the area in what could possibly have been called a penalty kick but none was given. At halftime Mexico took a slightly deserved lead.
The second half started and it didn’t take a minute before the rough and tumble play commenced. Uruguay had a good chance when after a free kick, Ismael Govea almost cleared a ball into his own net. Uruguay came close again when Maxi Araujo made a great long range shot and this time Malagon came big with a great save. Off the corner kick, Uruguay had their best chance up until that point when Bruno Mendez headed the ball and it hit the crossbar.
Buy now, Uruguay had gained control of the game, and once again Mexico had been pushed back after having the favorable score. Uruguay’s Darwin Nuñez had a good chance when he went past two Mexican defenders and got his long range shot off, but it went just wide of the far post. With Mexico losing control of the match, Coach Lozano tried to make moves by subbing out Cardona for Mauro Lainez.
Leo Fernandez had another good chance for Uruguay, but his shot went wide. Mexico then got lucky when Johan Vasquez looked to have handled the ball in the area, but the ref said it was accidental and no penalty kick was given. Uruguay was totally dominating, while Mexico held on for dear life. Oscar Macias was subbed on for Francisco Venegas but it didn’t stop for another chance that Nuñez wasted for Uruguay.
Mexico finally had a chance at a goal when Mauro Lainez made a great play and got off his left footed shot but it went just wide from the post. Off a corner kick, Bruno Mendez had a great opportunity when he was wide open but headed it wide in a terrible miss for Uruguay. Immediately after that, Pablo Lopez was subbed on for Marcel Ruizm which meant that every field player on available for this game played. Uruguay kept pressuring but Mexico rode it out and was able to get the win and the bronze medal.
While the result in the end was a positive one and Mexico kept its streak of getting medals in the Pan American games, the level of play shown by Mexico in the match isn’t going to calms fears about this Lozano-coached team. Like in the match against Honduras, Mexico started off with a good first half only to crumble in the second half. Most of the second half was played with Uruguay attacking and pinning down a Mexican team that held on to the lead for dear life at times. Mexico had numerous problems for this game, especially because of the fact that the suspensions and injuries meant they only had 15 players available to play (including both goalkeepers), but Mexico lost control of the match at the start of the second half. For most critics, Mexico’s participation would not be considered a success even when the team didn’t have the best available players, since clubs didn’t loan players as they weren’t obligated to and Liga MX was just starting. Still, the failure to get a result against Honduras (a fellow CONCACAF team and one considered to be less than the squad Mexico had) and the lack of improvement against Uruguay, means that Lozano and his staff have lot of people nervous ahead of the Olympic qualifiers for Tokyo 2020.