Miguel Herrera, Mexico Gold Cup preview
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Gold Cup: Under-pressure Mexico eye title, Confederations Cup playoff after Copa America flop

CONCACAF's marquee competition kicks off on July 7. For comprehensive 2015 Gold Cup coverage, bookmark this page.


UNDER-PRESSURE MEXICO TARGET TITLE, CONFED CUP PLAYOFF

Mexico enter the Gold Cup as co-favorites of the tournament once again, and are certainly a much stronger team than the squad that featured in the last edition of the tournament. At the same time, a separate El Tri team is coming off a disappointing showing in the Copa America, featuring a meltdown by head coach Miguel Herrera in the final group-stage game.

El Tri will be hungry to regain the Gold Cup title, not least to bring the national team back into a positive light, but also because a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup playoff against the United States, 2013 Gold Cup winners, is at stake.

GROUP C SCHEDULE

July 9: vs. Cuba, Chicago, Ill.
July 12: vs. Guatemala, Glendale, Arizona
July 15: vs. Trinidad & Tobago, Charlotte, N.C.

THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Carlos Vela, F, Real Sociedad: Vela returned to the Mexican national team last fall after a four-year absence from the team following a suspension and subsequent voluntarily refused call-ups, including for the 2014 World Cup. There’s a reason every Mexico manager has tried to bring Vela back into the fold: he’s a productive striker who could prove deadly for his country (as he did in the 2009 Gold Cup final). And now we’ll get to see him back in competitive action, possibly leading El Tri back to the title, if everything goes right.

Hector Herrera, M, Porto: Coming off a terrific season in Portugal, Herrera (left) will be asked to play his usual two-way role in the midfield and expected to dominate the competition. Given the expectations on El Tri, he’ll be counted on to help deliver the regional title.

Jesus Corona, M, Twente: “El Tecatito” is coming off the Copa America and given the double duty, Herrera may opt to bring the 22-year-old off the bench during the Gold Cup. But the fact that he has been brought to both tournaments indicates the potential he has on the international stage. Corona could ultimately be the breakout star of the Gold Cup.

THE COACH

Miguel Herrera (above) has become famous around the world for his GIFtastic celebrations in Liga MX and at last summer’s World Cup. More importantly, he's led an ambitious team that went from the unthinkable – not qualifying for the World Cup – to coming within a hotly-disputed penalty of reaching the quarterfinals in Brazil. He’s been a mostly stable influence on the national team, but an outburst blaming the officials for his team’s exit from the Copa America highlights the pressure Mexico’s coach is under at all times, and a disappointing finish in the Gold Cup could really put him on the hot seat.

GOLD CUP HISTORY

Winner of six Gold Cups, the most all-time, Mexico last won it all in 2011, a memorable 4-2 comeback win at the Rose Bowl featuring an outstanding goal by Giovani Dos Santos. Bragging rights and a possible ticket to the Confederations Cup are at stake for El Tri, but winning the title would also mean the US could not tie them in all-time Gold Cup titles.

MLS/USA CONNECTIONS

Goalkeeper Moises Munoz grew up in Northern California before returning to Mexico to pursue his soccer career… Former Chicago Fire attacker Cuauhtemoc Blanco starred in the 1996 and 1998 Gold Cups... Former Sporting Kansas City forward Omar Bravo was on the Mexico squads that won the 2003 and 2009 Gold Cup titles…Former Chicago Fire midfielder Pavel Pardo was also on the 2003 winning team, as was former New York Red Bulls defender Rafa Marquez, who was also on the team for the 2011 title.