Gold Cup: Mexico's Jose Manuel de la Torre welcomes media scrutiny: "The pressure helps us"
DENVER — Heading into Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Martinique, Mexico head coach José Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre knew that only a win over the French territory would suffice and guarantee them passage into the Gold Cup’s quarterfinal round.
After a few hairy moments, de la Torre and Mexico accomplished their mission at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver on Sunday afternoon. El Tri capitalized on two early chances on goal and added Miguel Ponce’s 90th-minute insurance strike to solidify a clear-cut 3-1 victory.
But even with the must-win now out of the way, de la Torre and Mexico, who have encountered well-documented struggles in the hexagonal phase of World Cup qualifying, know that nothing less than a Gold Cup championship will satisfy their fans back home.
“We have to keep working to find the answer to win the Gold Cup,” de la Torre told reporters postgame. “So, pressure or no pressure, that’s the way it is. That’s the way it is with the Mexican national team. You have to understand that and know that.”
De La Torre said postgame that he was pleased overall with his side’s effort, particularly in the first half before a second half dip in form, which the Mexican coach attributed to Denver’s mile-high altitude and hot temperatures.
But even with the convincing victory in mind – those types of wins have been hard to come by for Mexico of late, regardless of opponent – de la Torre said that the team will use the pressure from back home as a positive before its quarterfinal matchup on Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
“Of course winning is always good. After we win, we always analyze ourselves,” de la Torre said. “We look at the things we need to fix in our analysis, our errors, pick out the good. The pressure helps us get the result.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.