CHICAGO, Illinois – The wear and tear of playing in a Concacaf Gold Cup can exact a heavy toll.
The tournament requires the fittest and most in-form players to endure its challenges, which makes the accomplishments of Mexico’s Jesus Gallardo, Raul Jimenez, Uriel Antuna, Roberto Alvarado, Andres Guardado and Carlos Rodriguez so impressive.
All six have appeared in all five of Mexico’s Gold Cup matches heading into Sunday’s Final versus the United States, making them Mexico’s Iron Men.
The 24-year-old MF Gallardo is arguably the first name on Head Coach Gerardo Martino’s teamsheet, having started in Mexico’s five matches and playing all 510 minutes, including extra time in both the quarterfinal versus Costa Rica and the semifinal against Haiti.
Right behind is FW Raul Jimenez, who along with Gallardo, is the only Mexico player to have started in all five matches. Jimenez has logged 479 minutes and leads the team in scoring with five goals.
Up front with Jimenez for the majority of action has been FW Uriel Antuna. The 21-year-old has started four of Mexico’s five matches and scored four goals over the course of 407 minutes.
Another youngster, 20-year-old FW Roberto Alvarado, has started four matches, logging 282 minutes with one goal scored.
In midfield, the familiar face of Andres Guardado has also played in every Mexico match, with four games started. In all, the team captain has 362 minutes of action in the 2019 Gold Cup.
Ironically, Guardado’s two goals in the tournament came in his lone substitute performance when he replaced the injured Erick Gutierrez and proceeded to score twice in the 3-1 group stage win over Canada.
Rounding out the list is super substitute Carlos Rodriguez, whose five tournament appearances included two starts and 285 minutes on the field.
With Gold Cup glory just a win away, it would be no surprise to see Martino once again lean on his six “Iron Men” to try to claim Mexico’s eighth Gold Cup crown.