‘A good test for us’: CanMNT takes key lessons from Mexico loss

The Canadian men’s national team succumbed to a 3-1 loss to Mexico in 2019 Gold Cup group stage action on Wednesday, with any semblance of a turnaround in the second half quashed after a gut-punch third goal cancelled out the progress of Lucas Cavallini’s own effort within just two minutes.

“(It was) a good test for us and (we’re) never happy to be on the losing side but we learned a lot about ourselves and particularly the Mexicans,” Canada manager John Herdman said after the match. “We will have a very strong and fresh line up against Cuba ready to get the points we need to take us through to the quarterfinals.”

A pair of excellently-crafted and executed goals gave El Tri a two-goal lead before the hour mark, with Andres Guardado’s 54th-minute screamer from distance proving particularly stinging to Canada’s hopes.

But John Herdman’s tactical adjustments in the second half – bringing on Jonathan David, Jonathan Osorio, and Scott Arfield and switching from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 – seemed to pay off, as Cavallini connected with David on a break to beat Guillermo Ochoa and reduce Mexico’s lead to 2-1.

Guardado wouldn’t have it, though, scoring two minutes later in the 76th with a bit of fortuitous help, as the ball rebounded off of Alphonso Davies’ foot and smacked the post before beating Milan Borjan’s goal for Mexico’s third and final goal of the evening in Denver, Colorado.

“I thought we were organized as a team and were unfortunate to give up the first goal before half, which kind of opened things up,” Canada captain Atiba Hutchinson offered, post-game. “Toward the last 15-20 minutes, we created more and we take a lot of positives for that. Overall we will learn our lessons from this game and look forward to our next opportunity.

“Moving forward in this tournament we have to continue to play the way we’ve been playing and continue to do what we’ve been doing and we’ll be ready.”

It’s Mexico’s second win in Group A, giving El Tri the advantage in Group A, with Canada slightly edging Martinique – who defeated Cuba 3-0 earlier – in the standings, due to a 4-0 win in their first encounter of this competition.

It’s also John Herdman’s first loss as manager of Canada, having entered this match with a perfect 6-0-0 record. Mexico extended their own historical advantage over Canada, having now won 19 of their 28 previous encounters.

Canada next switches focus to taking on Cuba (Sunday, June 23 at 6:00 p.m. ET) in the hopes of qualifying for the quarterfinal stage of action in the Gold Cup.