SAN DIEGO, California – Mexico will open defense of its CONCACAF Gold Cup title on Sunday night, when it meets El Salvador at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Tricolor side that we’ll see in 2017, however, is not the same as the won that lifted the trophy after defeating Jamaica, 3-1, two years ago in the final. The only player to compete in that match and be named to the current roster is midfielder Jesus Dueñas.
Under new head coach Eduardo Lara, El Salvador is making every effort to right its football ship. The Cuscatlecos finished third in the 2017 Copa Centroamericana to qualify for the Gold Cup, a competition in which it has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals in nine previous attempts.
Mexico and El Salvador don’t meet often, so expect a hotly-contested tilt in southern California
Here are some storylines to watch:
- Since Mexico earned the right to compete in this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup, a decision was made to form two separate teams. Defender Luis Reyes is the only player to be on both rosters. How will the Gold Cup squad, which beat Ghana (1-0) and Paraguay (2-1) in recent friendlies, perform when the results matter?
- Mexico lost key forward Alan Pulido to a broken arm ahead of the tournament. Who will step up and score the goals?
- El Salvador hasn’t beaten Mexico in slightly more than eight years (2-1 home win in 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying). Can it rise to the occasion and make a statement of Gold Cup intent?
- Forward Rodolfo Zelaya has a team-record eight goals for El Salvador in Gold Cup play. Can he once again be the man that the Cuscatlecos look towards for inspiration and goals?