Mexico's Carlos Vela (pictured) has scored twice in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey – Mexico’s objective remains alive, though, not without difficulty.
Head coach Miguel Herrera has repeatedly stated his desire for a showdown with the United States in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final and El Tri moved one step closer to that goal following a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in the quarterfinals Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The fact that Mexico moved to within a game of that final is what matters most for Herrera, no matter how it happened.
Even without injured forward Giovani dos Santos, El Tri had ample scoring chances, but was snake-bitten throughout a scintillating match.
“That has been our main concern since the beginning of the tournament, to be effective up front,” Herrera said. “Unfortunately we haven’t been able to be as effective as we would want to.”
Herrera liked his team’s adjustment after the six-time champion was on the defensive in the opening half. Its control of possession and opportunities came after the break.
“In the first half, Costa Rica played well,” Herrera noted. “We talked about it. We had to stop them, control the spaces, control more of the ball. We had more goal scoring opportunities. We turned the game around.”
But those opportunities didn’t yield goals. Not in the second half and not in extra time. Oribe Peralta missed an open shot in the 51st minute and Carlos Vela missed a pair of golden chances later.
“You have only a certain number of plays to win a game before you start suffering and you start thinking that if you give your opponent a break, you lose,” Herrera continued.
Before the drama of a penalty kick shootout, Mexico was awarded a penalty in the dying seconds of added time in the second extra-time period. On this occasion, Andres Guadardo would not miss, clinically finishing from the spot to book a tickets to the semifinals against Panama.
As Herrera looked ahead to Atlanta, he does so with some uncertainty with his lineup. Giovani dos Santos warmed up, but was unable to compete on Sunday.
“We wanted to see how he felt,” Herrera finished. “I told him to warm up as if he was about to go into the game. He did and did not feel confident. That is why he went back to the bench.
“We will have to keep working on him, see how he feels. If he’s 100 percent, then there’s no doubt he’ll go in. If he doesn’t, then he will not.”