Soldier Field was packed with proud Mexicans, Guatemalans, Trinidadians and Cubans last week. They were there for a double header between Guatemala vs. Trinidad and Mexico vs. Cuba as part of the opening stages of the Gold Cup’s Group C.
The first game of the double header was Guatemala against Trinidad. At first, the Trinidadians were in the lead with Sheldon Bateau, Cordell Cato and Joevin Jones each scoring goals in the first half. Guatamala, not ready to give up but running out of time, was only able to score one goal in the second half in the 61’ minute by Carlos Ruiz.
Meanwhile the second match was a horrifying defeat for the Cubans. A 6-0 final in Mexico’s favor happened thanks to three goals being scored by Oribe Peralta in the 17’, 37’ and 62’ minute marks.
The assistant coach of the Cuban national team, Walter Benitez, said he knew what kind of mistakes that the team made after playing with Mexico.
“In this occasion, Mexico knew how to be forceful,” he said. “With us, we committed a lot of errors in the first half. We could be much better if we try to be a little more concentrated.”
Miguela Herrera, coach of the Mexican national team, said the match, like those in the rest of tournament, was between teams that were evenly matched. He expects to have to fight his way through each team participating in the Gold Cup.
Ahead of the matches, retired Mexican goalkeeper Adolfo Ríos hosted a youth soccer clinic in the city to promote the tournament. The community event, a collaboration with Allstate, gives a league or youth club in the area the opportunity to train with Rios, participating in exercises to help the youths with their performances.
“We also talk about the challenges of life, of how to stay healthy on and off the court. They are small, but they are committed to the sport.” Allstate provided the league with uniforms, equipment and tickets to the game.
Rios went on to share his opinion of the match between Mexico and Cuba.
“There are no easy games and Cuba is a team that is young in terms of futbol. Mexico, as expected, won,” he said. “Cuba will go beyond this Cup, but their participation is important because tournaments and matches like these will give them the international experience they lack. That will take time but it’s a process that will ultimately help them deliver results in futbol.”
Last, he talked about Mexico’s goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, and how he’s matured after his last World Cup in Brazil.
“The World Cup gave him the experience, but what has been done in Europe, Memo opening the goalkeeper position, for that maturity is required and he has shown that,” he said.