Mexico started their campaign in the CONCACAF Nations League with a 3-0 win over Suriname in Torreon, Coahuila. Mexico had sent 16 players home out of the camp for the Nations League matches after the three friendlies played in the United States, and Mexico came out with what mostly would be considered a B team. It still was good enough to dominate the match however, and get a deserved win that might have needed more goals to fit the level of domination on the field. Mexico will now travel to Kingston to face Jamaica in their final match of the summer.
Mexico started the first half with the new starting lineup that had several players under observation, like Diego Lainez getting his first start with the national team and goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo getting the start in the place where he plays with his club on a very hot night. As expected, Mexico went on the offense from the start. Off a corner kick in the third minute, Suriname failed to clear the ball and left it bouncing for Israel Reyes to get off a left footed shot that went past all of the defenders and Suriname’s goalkeeper Warner Hahn for the 1-0 lead. This was Reyes’ first goal with the senior national team, and it was a great start for Mexico. From outside the area Lainez got a good left footed shot that Hahn saved, although it almost slipped form his hands into the net. Mexico had a good play when Sebastian Cordova found Rodolfo Pizarro in the area, but his shot was easily cleared by Suriname’s defense. Suriname looked to have a good counter after Mexico lost the ball, but Yanic Wildschut got off a terrible shot after Julian Araujo gave him a small push. A shot from Erick Aguirre was deflected wide in what could have been a good opportunity. A cross into the area fell to Lainez, who made a good play and got off a left footed shot that forced a great save from close range from Hahn. Minutes later, Lainez made a great run past a couple of defenders before being brought down in the area by Shaquille Pinas, making the referee give a penalty kick to Mexico. Henry Martin stepped up to take the penalty and with a strong right footed shot he scored past Hahn for the 2-0 lead. In injury time, Suriname finally had their first chance of the match when off of a free kick, Ryan Donk hit a long range right footed shot that forced Acevedo to make a good save to the roar of the home crowd. It was the only chance of the half for the visitors, as Mexico had dominated the match completely even with their B team.
The second half started with Suriname subbing out Ryan Donk for Jeredy Hilterman. Suriname once again came close with a long range shot, this time with a left footed shot from Pinas that forced Acevedo to make another good save. Mexico then answered back with a shot from Cordova in the area, but it was deflected just wide. After Suriname lost the ball, Mexico got it back near the area and Lainez got off another great left footed shot that forced Hahn to make the best save of the night, and still it almost went in regardless. Mexico subbed out Rodolfo Pizarro (who was booed off the pitch by the crowd after another terrible match), Sebastian Cordova, and Henry Martin for Orbelin Pineda, Erick Sanchez, and Santiago Gimenez. Mexico wasted a great chance when Lainez made a good pass but Luis Romo failed to control the ball after getting caught by surprise and wasting what would have been a wide open shot. Suriname subbed out Diego Biseswar and Yanic Wildschut for Roland Alberg and Florian Jozefzoon. Mexico continued to dominate, as Suriname looked to falter with the heat and the better level of the Mexican team. Mexico subbed out Diego Lainez for Marcelo Flores. The youngster made an impact almost immediately when he made a great through pass to Pineda, who got into the area and was brought down by Hahn, giving Mexico a second penalty kick. The 18 year old Flores shockws everybody by taking the ball to take the spot, but unfortunately for him his right footed shot was saved by Hahn although the crowd kept chanting his name. Later Luis Chavez got a left footed shot that was deflected just wide. Suriname then subbed out Leandro Kappel and Roscello Vlijter for Jamilhio Rigters and Miquel Darson. Mexico had a good chance when Flores took advantage of a mistake by the Suriname defense, and his cross was just missed by a bicycle kick attempt from Pineda before Romo got to it. Romo headed the ball right to a Surinamese defender, who then cleared it out of danger. Flores then stole a ball and got to the area, but his shot was saved by Hahn. Then in the final minute off a corner kick, the ball was cleared right to Erick Sanchez, who got off a right footed shot from outside the area and the ball was deflected right through Hahn’s arms for the 3-0 win. It was a great way to end the night, as Sanchez scored for the first time with the senior national team and made the score a better reflection of the level shown during the match.
Mexico got a convincing win in their debut of the Nations League against Suriname. Although many people weren’t happy with the overall performance, the result was deserved and it would be tough to get an overall performance from a team with so many changes; instead it could have easily been seeing individual performances. The players who made the better impact were the “sparkplugs” Diego Lainez and Marcelo Flores. Lainez was the best player on the pitch, and although he failed to score, he had a number of chances and always looked to be the most dangerous player. Meanwhile Flores had a great impact by also taking the ball and creating danger, and although he missed a penalty, he was always a threat and showed a lot of personality at just 18 years of age. On the total opposite end, Rodolfo Pizarro and Sebastian Cordova did not play well. With both players coming in as the more veteran players and the ones who had to take the game, they did anything but. They were extremely slow and failed to get the ball and create danger. For Pizarro, who has been poor in every match he has played with the national team this year, it meant that he was booed by the fans and criticized by journalists. It seems Coach Gerardo Martino’s mission to try to get the players back to their old level looks to be failing and with so little time left before the World Cup, the project should end. Among the other players that played well were goalscorers Israel Reyes and Erick Sanchez as well as Luis Chavez and Santiago Gimenez. Henry Martin failed to show that he deserved a chance at Qatar, and Julian Araujo, who had been playing well with the national team in prior performances had a very poor match, although an early yellow card (that was very controversial) limited him greatly. Mexico will now travel to Jamaica where Martino will probably have the players that were on the bench as starters in a final test but in a tougher matchup as an away match.