74 days to go to the AFC Asian Cup, UAE 2019

Mexico kick off Gold Cup defence with a bang but Osorio ban leaves him watching from the stands

July 10 – Mexico, hard on the heels of their Confederations Cup semi-final and third place play-off appearances in Russia earlier this month, have opened their CONCACAF Gold Cup defence in the US with a resounding 3-1 win against El Salvador.

Man of the match Elis Hernandez (pictured), not to be mistaken for Javier Hernandez who became Mexico’s highest ever goalscorer in Russia, was the big difference in San Diego with a stunning volley for Mexico’s second goal, while delivering the crosses for both Mexico’s other goals.

Mexico have built on their their good form from Russia, but absent from the touchline was national team coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who FIFA suspended for six matches and has also been sanctioned with a warning and a fine of CHF 5,000.

The ban follows the Confederations Cup match for third place between Portugal and Mexico on July 2 during which Osorio used “insulting words towards the match officials while displaying an aggressive attitude towards them,” said FIFA.

Osorio’s ban will see him miss all of Mexico’s Gold Cup matches, but if they make the final it will be served in time for him to be back for the remainder of the World Cup qualifying games.

While Mexico were putting on the style in the first round of matches in the tournament, host USA were labouring to a 1-1 draw against Panama. Recently naturalised striker Dom Dwyer’s second goal in as many appearances was the bright spot for the US. Dwyer is a product of England’s Staines Town academy and proof that the English system is probably missing a lot of local born competitive talent.

The US has a recent history of being a slow starter in home tournaments, with a similar opening in the Copa America Centenario last year. The US now face Martinique who overcame Nicaragua 2-0 in Nashville in what will be a tricky encounter.

Martinque are a member of CONCACAF but are not a member of FIFA, associating to the world governing body via France. Martinique is a French territory which provides financial support for the Caribbean island’s football.

Elsewhere in first round group games Canada at last returned to winning international form with a 4-2 win over French Guiana, while Costa Rica showed why they are Central America’s top side with a 1-0 win over Honduras.

Jamaica’s reggae boyz also began well with a 2-0 win over Curacao. The Jamaicans face Mexico next in a re-match of the 2015 Gold Cup final.

The Gold Cup roadshow has a day’s break before the next round of double header group games begins Wednesday.

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