Luis Romo gets El Tri off to flying start in Gold Cup opener

Luis Romo (right) celebrates with Orbelín Pineda (left) and Erick Sánchez (#14) after scoring the opener for El Tri in minute 1. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
Luis Romo (right) celebrates with Orbelín Pineda (left) and Erick Sánchez (#14) after scoring the opener for El Tri in minute 1. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /
El Tri Honduras Gold Cup
Interim coach Jaime Lozano pulled all the right strings and El Tri responded, routing Honduras 4-0 in a Group B Gold Cup match on Sunday night. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /

Luis Romo scored 50 seconds after the opening whistle, then added another in minute 23, leading El Tri to a 4-0 rout of Honduras in the Gold Cup opener for both teams.

New coach Jaime Lozano couldn’t have asked for a better start as Mexico sits atop Group B with 3 points, even with Haiti – the team’s next opponent – but comfortably ahead on goal differential.

Mexico went on attack right from the start, a marked contrast to the cautious style favored by Diego Cocca who was fired last Monday.

El Tri’s second trip into the box was rewarded when Romo raced onto a headed clearance just outside the area, brought it under control and banged a left-footer inside the right post before the fans at Houston’s NRG Stadium had settled in their seats.

El Tri stayed on its front foot

The Monterrey man bagged his brace off a corner kick, taking advantage of lax marking by the Central Americans. Romo’s Rayados teammate Jesús Gallardo ran onto Luis Chávez’s cross just inside the penalty spot and bounced it toward the back post where Romo had drifted unmarked. The midfielder nodded the ball past a helpless Luis López and El Tri was up 2-0.

Although Mexico failed to find the net again before halftime, the revamped tricolor flowed forward in waves with swift counterattacks. Romo, Chávez and Erick Sánchez bossed the midfield and repeatedly sprang Uriel Antuna, Orbelín Pineda and Jorge Sánchez into the offensive third, but Mexico’s forwards were not efficient with possession.

In minute 52, Pineda worked a quick give-and-go with Henry Martín that sent the diminutive winger into the top of the box all alone and the AEK Athens man thumped home with his right foot.

Twelve minutes later, Romo came up with a steal then tried to find Sánchez with a no-look pass. Sánchez could not corral the ball, but got enough of it so that it ricocheted off a Honduras defender right to Chávez and he slotted home to put El Tri up 4-0 in minute 64.

Mexico saw out the game from there, holding Honduras to just 1 shot on goal. El Tri nearly went up 5-0 in minute 74 but sub Santi Giménez was correctly ruled offside upon tapping in a deflected cross at the back post.

The shutout victory was the fourth straight for Mexico over Honduras and the Central Americans have now gone five games without scoring against El Tri.

What’s next?

Mexico will travel from Houston to Phoenix on Tuesday for their next Group B contest.

El Tri will take on Haiti at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. A win over the Le Rouge et Bleu would clinch a spot in the knockout round for Jaime Lozano and his charges.

Mexico will be heavily favored as Haiti has never beaten El Tri who boast an 8-2-0 record over their Caribbean rivals. Mexico has outscored Haiti 27-2 in those 10 matches.

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The last time these two squads met was also in Glendale. That came in a 2019 Gold Cup semifinals match that Mexico won in overtime with the lone goal coming from a Raúl Jiménez penalty kick in minute 93.