While El Tri and the Mexican Soccer Federation are being raked over the coals – and rightfully so – one of two Mexico Under-23 teams currently playing in Europe provided some good news.
Raúl Chabrand and El Mini Tri No. 1 reached the final of the prestigious Tournoi Maurice Revello (aka the Toulon Tournament). The boys knocked out host and defending champions France in a penalty kick shoot-out after an exciting 2-2 draw.
That means we’ll have a Mexico vs Panama double-header on Sunday (the senior team plays Panama in the Nations League consolation game) as the two U-23 Concacaf sides will square off in Salon-de-Provence for a nice piece of hardware.
El Mini Tri will be going for its second Toulon Tournament title (Mexico won in 2012 before going on to win Gold at the London Olympics), while Panama has never medaled here before.
Revenge is sweet
Mexico qualified for the semifinals after a mediocre group stage (2 wins and 1 loss, with a 4-goal second half against Qatar being the lone highlight).
France overran El Mini Tri last year – a 4-1 rout – en route to its 13th Maurice Revello trophy while Mexico settled for the bronze, defeating Colombia 2-0 in the third-place match.
Two of the players from last season’s squad – defender Víctor Guzmán and winger Ozziel Herrera – are in Las Vegas with the senior team and took part in the debacle that was the 3-0 loss to Team USA.
This year, Chabrand’s young squad responded against the French, taking the lead twice while hitting the woodwork on three other occasions.
In the penalty shootout, Mexico banged home four of their five spot kicks, while two Frenchmen missed the target, the 10th and final shot clanging off the crossbar and soaring into the air and out of play.
The other Mexico Kiddie Corps
The second group of youngsters that was playing in Europe is the team that will participate in the Central American & Caribbean Games this summer.
El Mini Tri No. 2 is coached by Gerardo Espinoza and the roster features several members of the Club Tapatío team that he guided to the Expansión MX title last month.
This team played Spain’s U-21 side on Tuesday in Madrid, coming away with a 1-1 draw. Mexico’s goal was scored by captain Fidel Ambriz. On Friday, Espinoza’s men came up short against France’s U-21 team 1-0.
Spain and France are preparing for the UEFA Under-21 championships that kick off in Germany next week.
Shifting back to El Mini Tri No. 2, Sunday’s match will mark the third time Mexico will play in the Toulon Tournament final. In addition to the triumph in 2012, Team Azteca reached the 2018 final, losing 2-1 to an England side that featured Tammy Abraham (Roma), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan) and Lukas Nmecha (Wolfsburg).