Mexico (pictured) trains in Chicago ahead of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)
BRIDGEVIEW, Illinois -- They pressed their faces against a chain link fence. They waved flags and jerseys. They needed to get a glimpse of their favorite players.
A group of about 100 fans gathered Tuesday to watch part of Mexico’s training session on the Turf Field next to the Toyota Park.
What was supposed to be a closed practice session turned into a meet and greet for the Tricolor players and their head coach Miguel Herrera. Mexico practiced for about 90 minutes with the crowds kept a few hundred yards away by security.
The supporters moved closer to the action as the activities began to wind down. Most of Mexico’s players spent some time signing autographs and posing for pictures. Herrera also took part in the fun as well. Giovani dos Santos, his brother Jonathan, Carlos Vela, Miguel Layun and others also made sure to interact with the assembled group.
Mexico is preparing for its 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup debut Thursday against Cuba at Soldier Field in a Group B match. With Javier Hernandez missing due to an injury, there is a chance Herrera could use Oribe Peralta and Vela as his starting strikers.
Cuba practiced Tuesday on the soccer field at the University of Illinois Chicago campus. A couple of players stopped to speak with the Mexican media as they came off the team bus.
“We are looking to come out and play hard and look to win,” midfielder Dario Suarez said. “We are prepared to do what it take to be in the best position to win.”
Cuba comes in after being eliminated from qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, losing out to Curacao on the away-goals rule in the second round. The “Leones del Caribe” reached the quarterfinals in the 2013 Gold Cup and they hope to repeat that feat this time.
Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago also trained Tuesday as they prepared to meet in the first game of a doubleheader. Guatemala midfielder Jonathan Marquez expects a tough match against the Caribbean runner-up.
“We know that they are physically strong and they are fast,” Marquez said. “We have to come in with a path that is convenient for us, have the ball, open up spaces and logically find to be consistent. That will give us some tranquility and a solid defensive base.”