Uriel Antuna went from not being on Mexico's Gold Cup roster to Gold Cup starter in two days.
The LA Galaxy attacker came into the squad as an injury replacement for left back Jorge Sanchez, who was unable to overcome an ankle injury suffered in a 3-2 friendly win against Ecuador. Antuna also started that contest, El Tri's last preparation match ahead of the Concacaf championship,
With Rodolfo Pizarro nursing a muscle injury, the 21-year-old Antuna is entering as one of the wingers alongside Wolves forward Raul Jimenez. On the other side, 20-year-old Roberto Alvarado starts, giving El Tri boss Tata Martino a pair of inexperienced attackers with the Premier League forward.
The midfield also has an experience imbalance. Andres Guardado, the Mexico player who has played in the most wins all-time for the national team, starts and wears the captain's armband. Next to him is Diego Reyes, in at central midfielder thanks to the knee injury Edson Alvarez suffered in a 3-1 friendly win over Venezuela. Carlos Rodriguez gets just his third cap, with Jonathan dos Santos, his chief rival for the right interior midfield spot, also carrying a knock.
At the back, Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez and Jesus Gallardo are playing the fullback slots with Carlos Salcedo and Nestor Araujo in at center back. While both players are right-footed, either can play as left center back. That spot also was left vacant after Hector Moreno came out of the Ecuador game with an injury, though he is progressing well and could appear later in the tournament.
Guillermo Ochoa, who is anticipated to be El Tri's No. 1 all summer, gets the nod in goal.
For Cuba, there is the surprise absence of Daniel Luis Saez, who has dropped to the bench. Andy Baquero likely will play as a 10 in a 4-2-3-1 with Karel Espino and Luismel Morris forming the double pivot behind him and Aricheell Hernandez and Rolando Abreu on the wing. Luis Paradela, who plays his club football in Guatemala, is the lone striker.
Mexico XI: Ochoa; L. Rodriguez, Salcedo, Araujo, Gallardo; C. Rodriguez, Reyes, Guardado; Antuna, Jimenez, Alvarado
Cuba XI: Sanchez; Morejon, Lopez, Piedra, Martinez; Morris, Espino; Abreu, Baquero, Hernandez; Paradela