The Mexican national team enters their opening Gold Cup match vs. Cuba in some amount of disarray. They have suffered injuries to two of their star players and haven't exactly been tearing it up over the last six months.
The encounter in Chicago is a rematch of a 2011 Gold Cup group stage game which ended 5-0 in favor of the Mexicans, as Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez – one of Mexico's injury absences this time around – and Giovani dos Santos each bagged a brace for El Tri.
INJURY WOES: First, Hector Moreno went down with a foot injury. Then, Chicharito broke his collarbone. Now Mexico must enter the Gold Cup without two of their top players. Moreno, who started all four games for Mexico at the World Cup, has been Mexico's top center back over the past few years, and his injury may force an inexperienced player, either Oswaldo Alanis or Miguel Angel Herrera, into the starting lineup. Chicharito's absence will put more pressure on Giovani dos Santos and Carlos Vela, an attacking duo that hasn't had a lot of time to gel over the past few years.
Chicharito Hernandez to miss Gold Cup after suffering fractured collarbone during Wednesday's friendly vs Honduras. pic.twitter.com/BiJnZtbPNA— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 2, 2015
COPA AMERICA HANGOVER: Miguel Herrera seemed to have the magic touch in the run-up to the World Cup and the following months. His sideline persona and tactical acumen made him one of the best coaches to follow around the world. But in the last month that tide may have begun to turn. Mexico are winless in their last seven games, a stretch that includes a rough Copa America appearance, and some pundits believe Herrera's job may be in jeopardy. He will need to have a strong showing to bring public support back in his favor.
Apparently Miguel Herrera is very nervous about this Gold Cup. His job is on the line. https://t.co/BfoKvJHLFm— Andrea Canales (@soccercanales) July 7, 2015
FAMILIAR STORY: When a Cuban team plays outside of their country, there's a storyline that fans seem to follow. Will there be any defectors? On Tuesday, fans seemed to have gotten an answer: Forward Keilen Garcia appears to have left the team on Wednesday after not showing up for a team breakfast.
Additionally, six more Cuban players and head coach Raul Gonzalez will not arrive in Chicago until Thursday, the day of the game.
One Cuban footballer has deserted and are missing six more. Their team is currently without a coach or team doctor 24 hrs before debut.— Juan Arango (@JuanG_Arango) July 8, 2015