By Eric Beard, writing from Boston
Just look at that face. He could be 15-years-old for all we know with that smirk, and the same holds true for Giovani Dos Santos. But regardless of appearances, defenders from all over the world know that if there’s a moment of hesitation or a lack of focus then Chicharito will pounce and kill off the opposition. He’s that good. But unlike a Northern Ireland with George Best or a Liberia with George Weah, Mexico have now shown they have the class throughout the whole team to support their mercurial talent. 80,000 Mexicans came to see their national team destroy an El Salvador side more ready for a kickboxing tournament than the CONCACAF Gold Cup. They did not just witness an astounding 5-0 “manita” or a Chicharito hat-trick; they witnessed a rebirth.
Often notorious for starting slow in major tournaments, this Mexican side, under José Manuel De La Torre, is different. It possesses. It moves the ball all over the pitch with ease. It pressures relentlessly. In tight spaces, it finds ways to create chances. De La Torre said, “[Chicharito] had the fortune to score three but as a result of team play. That’s what forwards are there to do.” It may seem harsh not to revel in a 23-year-old’s hat-trick, but De La Torre is absolutely right. His side are simply too good to let one man steal the headlines. Their are still many little trifles in the back that need to be sorted out in training, but make no mistake, Mexico are back. They’re world class and are ready to destroy everything that comes in their way.
The United States and the cohesive force that is Costa Rica are the only realistic challengers to take the Gold Cup from Mexico, but the circumstances have changed. In the past, the United States have at least been on par with the Mexicans with their first team, but it became apparent last night that this is now Mexico’s cup to lose.
The supporting cast is a diverse group of warriors. From the frizzy haired Ochoa to the Jesus-esque Jésus Aldo de Nigris to the reliable Pablo Barrera to Andrés Guardado and Giovani dos Santos’ Messi imitations to Gerardo Torrado’s Gattuso complex, this team has reclaimed an identity after a few years washed ashore the island of irrelevance. The United States have enjoyed their moments in the Confederations Cup spotlight, but this Mexico team is special, and with Barça B’s midfield general Jonathan Dos Santos coming through the ranks, it’s only going to get better for El Tri. Watch out Gold Cup, watch out Copa América, los Mexicanos han regresado.
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