June 28 – A free scoring Mexico head into Saturdays’ quarter finals at the NRG Stadium Houston as match and tournament favourites.
Opening the tournament with a 7-0 hammering of Cuba before a 3-1 dismantling of Canada and a closer but no less convincing 302 win over Martinique, the Mexicans are without the team to watch.
In contrast their opponents Costa Rica, who lost in their group to Haiti, look like a team struggling to live up to former glories. Gone is the fluidity of their 2014 World Cup campaign. They are now battling to maintain status as the leading Central American team.
Though they still have the quality of players like Bryan Ruiz (now with Santos in Brazil) they are an older team that has not yet found the youthful brilliance to supplement Ruiz and Bryan Oviedo. To make matters worse, Real Madrid keeper Kaylor Navas has been excused national team duty while he works his future out with his club.
Uriel Antuna is the break out striker for Mexico. He scored the fastest goal of any Mexico player in a Gold Cup by netting just 117 seconds into Mexico’s win against Cuba. It was also the third-fastest goal by any player in a Gold Cup.
Captain Andres Guardado has again been a tower of inspiration and put himself into the Concacaf record books, by earning his 91st victory in a Mexico shirt after the win against Martinique, surpassing former United States international Landon Donovan’s Concacaf wins record of 90.
Seventeen of those wins have come in the Gold Cup, making Guardado the winningest Mexico player in the history of the tournament and the third-most all-time, behind Landon Donovan (28) and DaMarcus Beasley (18) of the United States.
Guardado also tied Zague’s record of most goals scored by a Mexico player in Gold Cup history, with 12 overall.
In the history of the Gold Cup group stage, Mexico had its third-highest goal-scoring output in the 2019 edition with 13 goals scored in the three games, behind 1993 (18) and 2011 (14), according to Concacaf.com.
In the three previous times that Mexico reached double-digit goals in the group stage (18 in 1993, 14 in 2011, 10 in 2015), the won the trophy.
The omens aren’t good for Costa Rica. They will also have to face a capacity 72,000 crowd, most of whom will be baying for a Mexican win.
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