If this is the way Mexico are going to play throughout the rest of the Gold Cup, the rest of the field may not stand much of a chance.
Mexico entered this Gold Cup as tournament favorites once again, and Saturday’s performance showed exactly why. El Tri were clinical, they were ruthless and, perhaps most importantly, they were really, really fun to watch as they battered a good Honduras team to send an emphatic message to the rest of CONCACAF.
El Tri crushed Honduras 3-0 in Arizona on Saturday night, booking themselves a matchup against Costa Rica or Canada in the semifinals in the process. Mexico moved themselves a step closer to another Gold Cup crown, and they did so with an absolute demolition of Honduras that began right from the opening whistle.
Mexico blitzed Honduras with three goals in the first half, with all three coming within a 12-minute span. By the 40th minute of Saturday’s quarter-final, the famous Ole chants could be heard from the Mexican fans in attendance as they reveled in a dominant half that already put the game out of reach.
The goalscoring began in the 26th minute through Rogelio Funes Mori, who has now truly found his stride as Mexico’s starting striker. After seeing a goal ruled out moments earlier due to a tight offside call, Funes Mori left little doubt on his second: a perfectly-placed header to kickstart the scoring.
With the goal, Funes Mori now has three goals in the tournament and should be considered a very real contender for the Golden Boot. He’s already come a long way since that tournament-opening performance that, at the time, was cause for concern, proving himself a more than capable figurehead for this attacking unit.
Five minutes after the Funes Mori goal, Mexico doubled their lead via a familiar face. Jonathan dos Santos’ perfectly-struck volley was only his sixth career international goal and his first of this tournament after scoring the tournament winner during the last Gold Cup.
The onslaught continued in the 38th minute on another header, this time from Orbelin Pineda. His acrobatic backflip to celebrate perfectly encapsulated the performance from El Tri: free-flowing, effortless, impressive.
It was a game that will serve as a message to the rest of this tournament’s participants and it was a game that showed exactly why Mexico are still the favorites to win this thing once again.
With the U.S. opting for a different look this summer after taking down El Tri in the Nations League, Mexico were always going to have the most talented team in the tournament. Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino’s decision to bring his A-team to the Gold Cup meant there could only be one expectation: a trophy at the end of it all.
The question was how that talent would piece together, especially Funes Mori, who was charged with being El Tri’s new No. 9. It took some time, but Mexico have found their stride in the attacking end.
Defensively, Mexico has been perfect so far, having not allowed a goal yet through their first four games. Truth be told, they’ve rarely been threatened as El Tri have dominated possession and conceded few legitimate chances.
When you combine a team that’s hard to break down with a team that has all the confidence in the world in the attacking end, you get something incredible. That’s the level Mexico are playing at right now and, if they can keep that level or even find a way to raise it even more, it will take something special to keep their hands off another Gold Cup trophy.