El Tri a heavy favorite to defend Gold Cup crown

Gerardo Martino is confident that El Tri will repeat as Gold Cup champions. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Gerardo Martino is confident that El Tri will repeat as Gold Cup champions. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
El Tri Gold Cup repeat
Mexico will be trying to emulate the 2011 team that defended El Tri’s Gold Cup title thanks to Gio Dos Santos (No. 10) and Pablo Barrera (No. 7). (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

On the eve of the Concacaf Gold Cup, Group A received a bit of a shake-up as Curaçao was forced to drop out of the tournament after a number of positive Covid tests. Guatemala was chosen to replace the Caribbean island nation in the group topped by El Tri.

The Central Americans – as the highest-ranking Concacaf team that did not qualify for the Gold Cup – is scrambling to field a team in time for their Group A opener against neighbor El Salvador on Saturday afternoon. Guatemala originally failed to qualify for the Gold Cup on Tuesday, losing to Guadeloupe 10-9 on penalty kicks in a preliminary round match.

The new calendar for El Tri is now as follows: vs. Trinidad & Tobago on Saturday; vs. Guatemala on July 14; vs. El Salvador on July 18.

Looking to add hardware to the trophy case

El Tri is favored to hoist the silverware on Aug. 1 and is aiming for its ninth Gold Cup title, the most since the inaugural tournament in 1991 (Team USA is second with six Gold Cup crowns). Mexico will be going for back-to-back trophies for the first time since winning in 2009 and 2011. El Tri also has a three-peat in its collection, claiming the Gold Cup trophy in 1993, 1996 and 1998.

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Coach Gerardo Martino is eager to become the first Mexico coach to win the Gold Cup twice. Six different managers led El Tri to Gold Cup championships before Martino guided The Tricolor to victory in 2019: Miguel Mejía Barón (1993), Bora Milutinovic (1996), Manuel Lapuente (1998), Ricardo La Volpe (2003), Javier Aguirre (2009), José Manuel de la Torre (2011) and Miguel Herrera (2015).

If “Tata” does lead El Tri to glory at Allegiant Stadium near Las Vegas on Aug. 1, he would become only the third Mexico coach. Only two Mexico managers have won more than one international tournament: the legendary Ignacio Trelles who died in March 2020 (1965 Concacaf Nations Cup, 1991 North American Nations Cup) and the aforementioned Lapuente (1998 Gold Cup, 1999 Confederations Cup).

El Tri roster

Although “Tata” does not have his entire first-choice roster at hand (several key players including goalie “Memo” Ochoa, fullback Jorge Sánchez, midfielder Carlos Rodríguez and winger Diego Lainez are with El Tri Olímpico in Tokyo), he’ll be able to field a top-quality line-up.

Two other key players will miss out due to injury – captain Andrés Guardado (his roster spot was given to Erick Sánchez) and playmaker Rodolfo Pizarro (replaced by Efraín Álvarez). Forward Alan Pulido is unavailable for the opener tonight against Trinidad & Tobago after suffering a nasty cut on his foot during his last MLS match.

Here are the Team Mexico players expected to climb onto the winners’ stand:

Goalies: Alfredo Talavera (Pumas), Rodolfo Cota (León) y Jonathan Orozco (Xolos).

Defenders: Héctor Moreno (Rayados), Néstor Araujo (Celta de Vigo), Carlos Salcedo (Tigres), Gilberto “Tiba” Sepúlveda (Chivas), Jesús Gallardo (Rayados), Luis “Chaka” Rodríguez (Tigres), Osvaldo Rodríguez (León), Kevin Álvarez (Pachuca) and Edson Álvarez (Ajax).

Midfielders: Jonathan Dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Héctor Herrera (Atlético de Madrid), Erick Sánchez (Pachuca), Erick Gutiérrez (PSV), Orbelín Pineda (Cruz Azul), Alan Cervantes (Santos) and Efraín Álvarez (LA Galaxy).

Next. El Tri faces double standards. dark

Forwards: Hirving “Chucky” Lozano (Napoli), Jesús Manuel “Tecatito” Corona (Porto), Alan Pulido (Sporting Kansas City) and Rogelio Funes Mori (Rayados).