Mexico started their long summer with a victory after defeating Guatemala 2-0 in a friendly. Mexico were the better team throughout, although they didn’t have a great match, especially in the first half, but got the deserved win nonetheless. The win happened in their first ever match in Kraken Stadium in Mazatlán. El Tri will now travel to the United States where they’ll have one final friendly on Saturday against Cameroon before competing in the Nations League Finals with a semifinal clash against the United States.
The match began for Mexico with a very alternate squad, with Raul Jimenez and Nestor Araujo the veteran leaders surrounded by mostly young players, along with World Cup veterans Carlos Rodriguez and Roberto Alvarado. As expected, Mexico started controlling possession and pace of the match. After getting a pass in the area, Jimenez did a good job of turning, but Guatemala’s defenders were able to clear the ball for a corner kick. After the corner, Jimenez got the ball in the area, but his shot was clearly handled by defender Nicolas Samayoa and a PK was given. Jimenez himself stepped up and got the ball past Guatemala’s goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen to give Mexico the 1-0 lead. The Selección Azteca would gain possession, but Guatemala would look dangerous at times on counter attacks, especially after corner kicks, where Mexico’s defense appeared very uncoordinated.
Mexico started to have trouble creating any sort of attack with their midfield faltering, especially Rodriguez and Erick Sanchez. A cross into the area was headed by Esteban Garcia, but Mexico goalkeeper Luis Malagon made an incredible save to deny him the goal. Off a corner, Mexico failed to clear and Rodrigo Saravia got the ball in the area, firing off a great shot that went just wide. Replays seemed to show that Malagon had gotten a hand on the ball and made a great save, but the ref failed to give Guatemala a corner kick. The halftime whistle blew and although Guatemala finished with some good opportunities, Mexico had the deserved lead despite needing to pick it up after faltering in the last minutes of the half.
The second half started with Mexico subbing out goalkeeper Luis Malagon for Jose Antonio Rodriguez. Alejandro Galindo got off a shot from outside of the area that was deflected wide. After getting into the area, Kevin Alvarez’s cross was deflected right to Sanchez, but his shot went right to Hagen, who easily saved it. With Chavez elevating his level of play, Mexico once again took control of the match completely and Guatemala failed to even get a counter. After a mistake, Hagen crashed the ball into De la Rosa, but lucky for him the ball went wide. After a quick play, Antuna was able to get a cross into the area that Salvador Reyes got to, but Hagen blocked his shot. Luckily for Mexico however, the ball went right to the path of Roberto de la Rosa, and he was able to fire a shot through the Guatemalan defense and past Hagen for the goal that gave Mexico the 2-0 lead.
De la Rosa had been a nice surprise since the last match against the United States and now had his reward with his first Senior NT goal. Mexico had a good chance with a 3 vs 2, but Sanchez wasted it with a bad final pass. After getting the ball in the area, Altan got off a good shot, but Rodriguez made an equally good stop. Unfortunately, in that same play, it appeared defender Victor Guzman had injured himself and had to be taken off injured. No substitution was made as Mexico had already run out of subs. Off a free kick, Jose Ardon got a free header but it went wide. Mexico had no trouble after that and got a win to start their summer matches.
Diego Cocca got his first win in Mexican soil after defeating Guatemala. While it was an early friendly just days after starting their summer camp, Mexico could have looked better. Some players failed to perform well, with Erick Sanchez, Kevin Alvarez and Alan Cervantes having specially poor matches. A good sign were some of the subs, especially Luis Chavez, who gave the team the order to take back control of the match. Mexico will now travel to San Diego where they should face the tougher task of Cameroon, although the African team left a lot of their “A” players out of their call up list. Still, Mexico should take that game more seriously as they need to prepare for the tough match against the United States in the Nations League, which is the next match on the calendar.