Goalkeepers – Alfredo Talavera, José de Jesús, Guillermo Ochoa
Defenders – Paúl Aguilar, Néstor Araujo, Diego Reyes, Héctor Moreno, Yasser Corona, Jorge Torres Nilo, Miguel Layún, Rafael Márquez
Midfielders – Jesús Molina, Héctor Herrera, Jesús Dueñas, Andrés Guardado, Carlos Peña,
Forwards – Javier Hernández (Chicharito), Raúl Alonso Jiménez, Oribe Peralta, Jurgen Damm, Hirving Lozano, Jesús Manuel Corona, Javier Aquino
Goalkeepers – Diego Barreto, Antony Silva, Justo Villar
Defenders – Iván Piris, Fabián Balbuena, Paulo Da Silva, Gustavo Gómez, Miguel Samudio, Bruno Valdez
Midfielders – Celso Ortiz, Robert Piris, Blas Riveros, Rodrigo Rojas, Oscar Romero
Forwards – Nelson Haedo Valdez, Miguel Almirón, Edgar Benítez, Jorge Benítez, Derliz González, Juan Iturbe, Darío Lezcano, Antonio Sanabria
It was the moment that Atlanta football (soccer) fans had been waiting for: A major friendly (exhibition match) in Atlanta to kickoff the summer.
Taking place just days before the 100 year celebration of the Copa America, Mexico kicked off their U.S. Tour against a familiar South American foe in Paraguay. If you remember about a month ago, we attended a press conference with new MLS club Atlanta United and Mexico Manager Juan Carlos Osorio to get the city excited about the match.
The match began fairly slow as neither team was able to create many chances. It wasn’t until Mexico’s newly promoted Jurgen Damm hit a low cross to Andres Guardado who calmly nailed it in the bottom left corner for goal. Guardado’s brace opened up the match for El Tri and the crowd exploded.
Paraguay’s first real chance came when Robert Piris tested the Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa with a rocket right outside the 17-yd box.
Mexico returned the aggression when Carlos Peña curled a mid-range rocket at Paraguay’s Justo Villar, which he tipped over the net.
El Tri had quite the scare in the 70’ minute when Javier Aquino went down hard after a challenge. A lot of fans including myself, knew the risk of Mexico touring just days before the biggest tournament in our hemisphere. Too many games in a short amount of time increases the risk of injury and player fatigue (which we questioned their manager about last month).
In the 87’ Carlos Peña mishandled a through-ball and wasted a quality chance to notch Mexico’s second goal of the match.
The game ended 1-0 in favor of El Tri and it was about right. They didn’t overpower Paraguay and weren’t overly impressive. They were about even in shots (MEX 7, PAR 8), saves (MEX 7, PAR 7), and fouls (MEX 13, PAR 17).
Paraguay was a good warmup for Mexico since they’re a good team but, more importantly, they have more players with international experience on the club level. This makes a difference because playing other CONCACAF countries outside of USA, Costa Rica, or Jamaica wouldn’t pose as a test. Paraguay has players who play not just in Paraguay, but for big clubs like Udinese (Italy), Cruz Azul (Mexico), Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine) and many others.
The 63,049 is the attendance were loud and proud during the 90’ match. And for those of you who are hardcore football fans, Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid in penalty kicks (with Ronaldo scoring the winning penalty of course) right as today’s friendly kicked off. What a time for football, what a holiday weekend.
Photo: Anna Lira