Mexico, which is unbeaten in this month's Gold Cup, enters Houston coming off a win over Guatemala in the quarterfinals.Any result other than a Gold Cup title would be a huge disappointment for Mexico, which breezed through the group stage and won somewhat easily in the quarterfinals.
The tournament is down to four teams and El Tri remains the favorite to take home the silverware. Its next order of business will be to get past Honduras Wednesday in Houston for a chance to play either the United States or Panama in next weekend’s final.
“The Mexican people don't expect other outcomes than the victory,” Mexican star Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez told L´Equipe. “Any other result will be a bitter failure.”
Mexico is coming off a 2-1 victory over Guatemala, which happened to be its toughest competition through four games of the tournament. El Tri has outscored its opponents 16-2 on its way to reaching the semifinals for the third straight Gold Cup.
Chicharito leads the Mexicans with six goals, including the game-winner against Guatemala at the Meadowlands. Mexico had fallen into a one-goal hole early on against the small nation that ranks 149th in the world before Aldo De Nigris knocked in the equalizer in the 48th minute
"They know they should win versus any adversity," Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre said. "We knew it was a difficult match and a difficult opponent. The early goal was because the field was a little complicated and heavy but we knew that we would come back, and we did."
Mexico has accomplished its success this month despite having five of its players suspended for testing positive for the use of clenbuterol, including starting goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and starting defender Francisco Rodriguez. The Mexicans have now added reinforcements prior to the semifinals.
Coach Jose Manuel de la Torre has decided to bring in defenders Paul Aguilar, Hector Reynoso and Hiram Mier as replacements for the remainder of the Gold Cup. Goalkeeper Luis Michel and forward Marco Fabian are on call should the team need them.
“Everybody that comes to add something is going to be welcomed on this team,” Chicharito told the media. “Like everything in life we have, you always have to look at it positively.”
While Mexico had an easy run to the semis, Honduras needed to win on penalty kicks to get past Costa Rica last Saturday. After playing to a 1-1 draw, Los Catrachos won the shootout 4-2 to earn their second consecutive trip to the Gold Cup semifinals.
Honduras is led by Carlo Costly, who has three goals in the tournament so far. Costly, Victor Bernardez, Wilson Palacios and Jerry Bengston all scored on the penalty kicks after 120 minutes of play against Costa Rica at the Meadowlands.
Mexico and Honduras will play the second game of a doubleheader at Reliant Stadium. The day starts out with the U.S. versus Panama in the first semifinal.