Mexico and Colombia started their participation in the Revelations Cup with a 0-0 tie. It was a match that had its moments, but overall failed to live up to the expectations of either team. More importantly is that both teams gained a point but are on a severe disadvantage in their goal of winning the tournament after the openeer had Brazil beating the United States by a 4-0 score, putting the South American team in first place and with a heavy goal differential for a possible tie breaker. Mexico will now face them on Saturday, while Colombia faces the United States.
The first half started as Mexico hoped to get to a good start to their tournament with their best player Marcelo Flores starting, as well as the pair of Bryan Gonzalez and Cristian Torres with Jesus Hernandez up top. Mexico had a great opportunity when a bad pass by Colombia almost gave Torres a chance from close range, but a Colombian defender blocked the ball off of his feet. Mexico then had a great chance when Antonio Leone got a nice header that was saved by Colombia’s keeper Juan Castillo, although it was ruled to have been out by the referee and no corner kick was given. Later a great cross from Torres was blocked by Castillo, causing no Mexican attacker to be able to get to it. Mexico started as the better team, but Colombia had the clearer chance when Andres Salazar got off a left footed shot that Mexico’s goalkeeper Diego Reyes deflected into the post. It was Colombia’s first chance, but it was an extremely dangerous one. After Mexico’s good start, Colombia started to gain possession to the point that they were controlling the match, as Mexico’s attacks started to falter. Colombia came close when a long ball cross from Edier Ocampo turned into a shot, forcing Reyes to make a save. Mexico wasted a great opportunity when after a great pass from Torres to Gonzalez allowed for a great chance, but Gonzalez’ cross was deflected into the arms of Castillo instead of to Jesus Hernandez, who would have had a tap in had the ball arrived to him. After a great play by Flores to leave his defender behind, his pass into the area was unlucky to not find a Mexican attacker and was cleared by Colombia’s defense. Then in a play it looked like Salvador Mariscal got fouled in the area by Salazar, but the referee failed to give a penalty that replays showed should have been given. The halftime whistle blew, and the scoreless tie looked like a just result for both sides.
The second half started with both teams coming out with the same eleven players they started the match with. Mexico could have had a great opportunity when a great pass by Torres found a wide open Mariscal who got into the area, but inexplicably sent a cross to no one instead of shooting or looking for a better pass. Colombia came close again when a cross from Salazar turned into a low shot that Reyes had to save. Mexico then answered when a cross into the area by Gonzalez was blocked into the path of Flores, but his left footed shot was deflected by Salazar before it got to Castillo. Mexico subbed out Christian Torres and Bryan Gonzalez for Jonathan Perez and Joshua Mancha. Colombia answered when a cross into the area was headed by Alexis Manyoma, but his header went just wide. Colombia then subbed out Isaac Zuleta and Jose Mulato for Gustavo Puerta and Luis Miguel Angulo. After a marvelous pass from Flores to Perez, who got off a shot that was blocked by a defender, the ball fell to Flores whose shot was saved by Castillo. Mexico subbed out Marcelo Flores (by far the best player on the field) and Fidel Ambriz for Kerel Campos and Saul Zamora. After a run by Ocampo, Isaias Violante cleared the ball and then crashed into Ocampo. This started a big scuffle between the players as Ocampo looked really hurt and had to be subbed out because of it. Juan Mina was subbed in his place, and Mexico also subbed out Gian Cabezas for Javier Ortiz. Kerel Campos then had Mexico’s best chance when he got off a right footed shot that bounced off Castillo, and it hit the post as he tried to save it. Mexico subbed out Jesus Hernandez for Ali Avila. After a good run, Puerta got off a right footed shot, forcing Reyes to make another save. Colombia then subbed out Tomas Gutierrez for Carlos Cantillo. After a strong foul by Mariscal, another scuffle between the teams occurred which ended with a yellow card for each team. Then off of a free kick, Reyes misjudged the ball and missed after going out for it, and Colombia scored but not before the referee had called the play off for a foul. Replays showed that there really was no foul, and just like in the final minutes of the first half when Mexico had a penalty not called, the referee once again made a mistake, this time against Colombia. It wound up being the last play as the game ended in a 0-0 tie.
It wasn’t the worst start for Mexico, but overall Coach Luis Perez will have a lot to work with Mexico’s U20 team. The team had some good individual performances, but overall showed an extreme lack of cohesion and for large stretches of the match they had possession but did nothing with it. There were good performances, especially from Marcelo Flores, but Mexico created little danger and Colombia had less possession but the better opportunities. Goalkeeper Diego Reyes also looked at times to be uneasy coming out, and the referee might have saved him from a howler of a mistake that would have given Colombia the win. Mexico will now have to improve fast as they face Brazil, who looks now as clearly the best team in the tournament and thus the toughest test for Mexico. Although the tournament is just a friendly tournament, Coach Luis Perez might need a result or a positive performance as he has a lot riding as does Mexican football on this U20 process that not only plays for the ticket to the next U20 World Cup but for the next Olympic Games as well.