Mexico will face a battered Honduras in the Quarterfinals of the 2021 Gold Cup. Mexico will need to bounce back after a performance against El Salvador that left many of the fans worried. They will face a team who also needs to bounce back from a similar situation, but will need to do so with a lot of absences. A loss will end the tournament for both sides, and they will have the added pressure of a sold out crowd who we still don’t know who they will be rooting for.
Mexico’s performance in the 2021 Gold Cup has been disappointing to say the least. After an opening game against Trinidad and Tobago in which they lost star player Hirving Lozano 10 minutes in after a terrible clash, Mexico could never overcome it and ended up with a scoreless tie. Mexico then improved in their next match against Guatemala, where they would get a solid 3-0 win before closing out against El Salvador. While Mexico won by a 1-0 score and getting first place in the group, their performance left a lot to be desired, especially after El Salvador outplayed them for the last 30 minutes. Still there was a lot of overreaction after Mexico had totally dominated the first 60 minutes and should have had a bigger lead, but bad definition as well as a great game from El Salvador’s goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez stopped the score from being wider. Even when El Salvador had taken control of the game, Gonzalez had to make two great saves against shots by Orbelin Pineda and Alan Pulido. Mexico’s goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera only had to make one save in the match, although there was a dangerous shot from El Salvador that hit the post. Mexico needs to improve to fix their finishing problems, especially to kill the game. The game will be in front of a sold out crowd, but for the first time in a while there is a question on who will they be rooting. Last Sunday it was a pro-El Salvador crowd, and Honduras will be coming from two sold out games in Houston where they were overwhelmingly supported. It will be up to game time to see if the crowd in Glendale, Arizona will be pro-Mexico or not, something that had an impact in the El Salvador game.
Like Mexico, Honduras will be coming in after a performance that left a lot of doubts. Honduras won their first two games against Grenada and Panama, but lost their final match against Qatar by a s 2-0 score. Worse for the team is the fact that they will come with a lot of missing players. Alberth Elis and Michaell Chirinos were injured before the match and will be out for the Mexico game, while during the game Maynor Figueroa and Romell Quioto left the match because of injury. Figueroa is out of the tournament but their best player Quioto will be playing the match, although he might not be at 100%. Honduras also has the problem of a COVID-19 outbreak that means they will be missing players Edwin Solano and Carlos Fernandez, but perhaps more importantly it will mean they will not have Coach Fabian Coito. This means Honduras will be facing a team that has a better squad without key players and without their coach, who has been a key factor in their improvement.
Mexico always has a tough time against Honduras, and it should be another tough battle on Saturday. Yet after the hit that was missing out on Lozano, Mexico will have a big advantage on Honduras missing so many players. While Honduras get the boost of having Quioto on the field, he will probably not be at 100% as he was just cleared of not having a muscle tear. His injury caused him to come out against Qatar and totally handicapped them offensively. Mexico has the added advantage of having almost a week off, which gives them a two day rest over their rivals. If they get back the home crowd boost, Mexico should be favored for the result. So far however it has not worked out at all in the competition, and if they can fix their definition problems, they will have more pressure on them which should impact their play as it has historically been the case.