Mexico overcomes pair of blunders to salvage 2-2 draw with Cameroon

Henry Martín congratulates Kevin Álvarez (#4) after the two combined to earn a 2-2 draw for Mexico against Cameroon. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Henry Martín congratulates Kevin Álvarez (#4) after the two combined to earn a 2-2 draw for Mexico against Cameroon. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
Mexico Cameroon
The key play of the game for Mexico. Carlos Rodriguez (#8) headed the ball to Henry Martín who fed Kevin Álvarez for the equalizer in minute 90+4. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

In its final tune-up before the big Nations League showdown against Team USA, Mexico on Saturday night scored a stoppage-time goal in each half to secure a 2-2 draw against Cameroon in San Diego.

A Luis Romo coughed up possession in midfield leading to a goal that gave the 42nd-ranked African side a 1-0 lead in minute 37. The Monterrey man made up for his error with a nice pass to Roberto de la Rosa who side-footed a touch pass to Ismael Reyes inside the box and the América defender made a top-class move to knot things at 1-1 in minute 45+2.

Just after the hour mark, Mexico goalie Luis Malagón made a howler, allowing a soft cross to slip between his legs and Cameroon’s Karl Took Ekambi poked home the gift for a 2-1 lead.

Kevin Álvarez prevented the loss when he slotted home in minute 90+4, taking a nifty through pass from Henry Martín and slotting home inside the far post just before a got steamrolled by Collins Far.

Grades for Team Mexico

With the late equalizer, El Tri coach Diego Cocca remains unbeaten as boss of world No. 15 Mexico (2-2-0), substituting liberally with a second-choice roster.

Nine players who will be on the Nations League roster did not even report to the El Tri training camp until Saturday.

Ten of the players who saw action against Cameroon and on Wednesday against Guatemala will return to their club teams this week. None of the 10 are expected to be summoned for the June-July Gold Cup either (except in case of injury).

Cocca has installed a 5-2-3 formation that morphs into a 3-4-3 when Mexico goes on attack. He also showed what might be described as a 3-4-2-1 late in the game as he sought to get playmakers into the middle of the field. And it worked, with midfielder Charlie Rodríguez recovering possession for Mexico, knocking the ball to Henry – the solo striker – who showed great poise in holding the ball and waiting for Álvarez to make his overlapping run.


Malagón appeared to have the inside track to claim the No. 2 spot behind Guillermo Ochoa since his main competition – Carlos Acevedo – reinjured his shoulder during training last week.

The América keeper was never going to replace Ochoa this summer, but his error will certainly raise doubts. Tijuana goalie José Antonio Rodríguez – a clean sheet in 45 minutes against Guatemala – could now contend for the back-up role.


Cocca utilized a 3-man back line in both games last week. América teammates Néstor Araujo and Israel Reyes featured in both games and played well though Araujo is not expected to be on the Nations League roster.

Gilberto Sepúlveda held up well as the third man vs Cameroon but he is headed back to Chivas camp.

Fullbacks Jesús Gallardo and Jorge Sánchez did not stand out against Cameroon which likely means Sánchez will not start against Team USA. As for Gallardo, his next good centering pass will be his first with Team Mexico. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but his crosses must improve he could find himself behind Gerardo Arteaga in the pecking order.


Easily the best line for El Tri against Cameroon.

Luis Romo flashed glimpses of his Tokyo Olympics form but his unforgivable turnover is difficult to forgive. Still, in addition to his “hockey assist” on Mexico’s first goal, Romo bossed midfield and provided several lovely lead passes to the wings that should have led to scoring opportunities.

Luis Chávez was a whirling dervish throughout the match and he showed that he is ready to claim a permanent spot in the middle of Diego Cocca’s formation from here to the 2026 World Cup.


With Raúl Jiménez unavailable, Cocca opted for youngster de la Rosa at the point of attack with Uriel Antuna and Ozziel Herrera flanking the Pachuca forward.

It’s worth pointing out that both Mexico goals were scored by defenders though strikers did provide the assists.

De la Rosa put in a solid 62 minutes (his one-touch feed to Reyes was brilliant) but he will be reporting to Tuzos camp this week.

Herrera, 22, has promise but he was indecisive with the ball at his feet and appeared not to see open teammates too often. The Atlas youngster was a willing defender, pressing and back-tracking quite effectively.

Antuna was a disappointment, squandering quite a few opportunities to create scoring chances while his crossing passes were atrocious. The beneficiary of several Romo lead passes, Antuna failed to create danger though his work-rate was up to par.

Henry Martín came in for the final half-hour and he showed that he is ready to contribute in Nations League though he will likely be second choice to Santiago Giménez.

Team Mexico is in Los Angeles for a couple days of training before heading to Las Vegas for the semifinal clash with world No. 13 Team USA.

Next. Wheelin' and dealin' continues in Liga MX. dark

Mexico will be seeking to avenge their 3-2 overtime loss to the U.S. in the final of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League tournament. The winner will advance to a June 18 final (also in Las Vegas) against the survivor of the Panama-Canada semifinal.