Gold Cup: Dazed and confused El Tri lays an egg

Orbelín Pineda laments a missed opportunity in Mexico's scoreless draw vs T& T in the Gold Cup. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
Orbelín Pineda laments a missed opportunity in Mexico's scoreless draw vs T& T in the Gold Cup. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /
El Tri dazed, confused
Erick Gutierrez gestures for team doctors as “Chucky” Lozano lies prone after colliding with the Trinidad & Tobago goalie.. (Photo by Andy JACOBSOHN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY JACOBSOHN/AFP via Getty Images) /

If not for Nigeria’s stunning upset of the U.S. Men’s Basketball team, Team Mexico’s scoreless draw against Trinidad & Tobago on Saturday night would have been the shocker of the weekend. As it was, El Tri should be embarrassed at the performance and effort in its Gold Cup opener.

The Group A match was supposed to be a walkover for El Tri – No. 11 in the FIFA World Rankings against No. 103 T&T – but Gerardo Martino’s squad made things tough on themselves with bad decision-making throughout the game and woeful execution in the final third.

El Tri dominated the statistics (outshooting T&T 30-4 off 89 percent possession), but only 7 shots were on target and none were tough chances for goalie Marvin Phillip.

The T&T goalie was involved in a horrific collision early on that sent El Tri star Hirving Lozano to the hospital. This followed shortly after a reckless challenge on “Tecatito” Corona that left the elusive winger gimpy momentarily. “Tecatito” would end the night with multiple leg bruises from stray T& T boots.

Frustration for El Tri

Coach Martino watched helplessly from a sky box (he was suspended after getting red-carded at the end of the Concacaf Nations League final last month) as his team looked hesitant and unimaginative.

This characterization was more or less confirmed in the post-game press conference where T&T coach Angus Eve told reporters he was surprised that Mexico did not make any tactical adjustments in the second half.

El Tri moved the ball freely around the pitch, but bogged down in the final third as the Soca Warriors parked the bus inside the box. Once within scoring range, however, Mexico too often tried to dribble through crowds, stood and watched, or fired harmless crosses into the forest of legs that obscured looks at goal.

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Orbelín Pineda squandered Mexico best scoring chance, firing from point blank range right at the goalie. Pineda and “Tecatito” conspired to ruin another splendid scoring chance a bit later, and Rogelio Funes Mori saw a goal disallowed for offside though video replay suggested the culprit – Jesús Gallardo – was actually onside.

Team Mexico seemed impatient and hesitant, puzzled that the square peg wouldn’t go into the round hole. All in all, a woeful performance that increases the pressure for the remainder of the tournament. The next group stage match for El Tri is Wednesday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas against Guatemala.

Homophobic chant reappears, forces stoppage

Twice in the final minutes of the match, the offensive goal kick chant that has Mexico in hot water with FIFA was heard. As per protocol, the game was stopped and an announcement was made over the P.A. system warning fans that the game could be abandoned if that behavior continued.

El Tri captain Héctor Herrera gestured to the crowd to knock it off, but to no avail.

Televisa game commentators voiced their annoyance at the interruption to the game, going so far as to complain that FIFA and Concacaf should change their strategy in trying to put a halt to the homophobic shout because it isn’t working.

Next. El Tri faces double standards. dark

Sure, it is frustrating to players that the game gets stopped, their rhythm is interrupted and time is lost. But the Mexican Soccer Federation has only itself to blame as it spent years opposing FIFA efforts to put an end to the discriminatory roar. And when they finally realized FIFA was serious, their initial efforts to address the issue were weak and feckless.