Mexico's injury issues aren't getting any better, with El Tri manager Tata Martino saying Hector Moreno is likely to miss the Gold Cup.
The veteran center back attempted a long ball forward in the 35th minute of Mexico's 3-2 win over Ecuador and immediately went to the ground, calling the trainers over as goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa went over to check on him. Moreno left AT&T Stadium under his own power but did so with a limp. He is set to undergo evaluation Monday.
"I think there is a big chance that he's out of the Gold Cup," Martino said in his postmatch news conference.
Already missing a number of players to injuries and omissions, Martino can ill-afford to lose another player to injury. El Tri already is hoping midfielder Edson Alvarez is able to bounce back from a knee injury suffered in a 3-1 win over Venezuela last week.
If Alvarez weren't fit for the competition, LA Galaxy attacker Uriel Antuna would be his injury replacement. Moreno also would be replaced by Antuna if Alvarez is fit. Only players from the provisional roster submitted can be called in as injury replacements, and Mexico submitted a list of 29 players rather than the full 40 allowed. That means if both Moreno and Alvarez miss the tournament, no healthy field players remain to fill out the group.
Martino has more depth at the back than he does in midfield, though. Carlos Salcedo stepped in and played next to Cesar Montes with Nestor Araujo and Diego Reyes also capable of playing at center back - though Reyes may push into the midfield if Alvarez isn't healthy.
Salcedo said after the match that building chemistry is important for whichever center-back pairing ends up getting the nod.
"We have to continue to play more minutes together," he said. "I don’t know if it’s going to be me, Araujo or even Hector if he comes back from the injury. At the end, we have to be focused on what we have and keep our focus on our goal to win the championship."
The 25-year-old is recovering from his own knee injury, suffered during Tigres' title run. He said he felt good playing Sunday and is hoping to get a healthy dose of minutes during the Gold Cup. While the World Cup veteran is one of Mexico's top defenders, he said he still needs to put in the effort to win a starting job.
"That’s the goal, but I have to work for it. I think that’s the good thing Tata has made. Nobody has his spot guaranteed," he said. "I think we have to compete every day to see who’s going to be the starter. After that, with all the passion we’ve put into these last three games, we have to manage the same thing now in the official competitions."