Mexico head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has defended his approach in a 1-0 Gold Cup final defeat to the United States men’s national team on Sunday, asking rhetorically why he should change tactics when, from his perspective, El Tri controlled the match.
Martino will be under fire following the second letdown to the USMNT in a final this summer, as the U.S. also won a heated Nations League clash against Mexico in June. The latest loss is particularly difficult for supporters to take, as he brought a much more experienced starting XI to the competition than his counterpart Gregg Berhalter.
El Tri created numerous goalscoring opportunities but also found themselves in trouble when their high defensive line was tested. The 117th-minute winner from the USMNT, however, came from a set-piece as Miles Robinson headed in a free-kick.
“We did not prepare to play [the USMNT] two and a half years in one way and then in the [Gold Cup final] in another way,” Martino told reporters.
“I can’t find the reason why we should change. We should consider that if the team had been overtaken for long periods of the match, but that did not happen in this final or in the previous [Nations League] final.
“It is true that we lost two finals, but the United States [hurt us] from set-pieces. We had great moments in the two finals where we defined the game. When we cannot convert goals from these situations, there is always a risk.
“The United States grew a bit in this game, and we know that a stopped ball can hurt us and that happened today.”
Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera understood the criticism El Tri will likely take in the coming weeks, but he said it did not concern him.
“The first feeling is sadness, it definitely hurts,” Herrera said. “I think we’re calm and okay though because we were dominant during the match, had a lot of chances, but just couldn’t score.
“When we get criticized, I’m not going to lose sleep today or tomorrow. I don’t agree with what you say, but when we don’t get the results, fans have the right to express what they feel. You have to get used to that and today we have to support them, lift our chin up and continue forward.”
Mexico’s hold of CONCACAF supremacy is in danger following back-to-back disappointments against a top rival.
Even Olympic gold this month would do little to alleviate the sense the USMNT is creeping up on El Tri – and perhaps surpassing them already – in the region.
Martino himself is going to be under intense fire as well as his squad enter World Cup qualifying action this fall in a set of matches that will include a Nov. 12 date with the Stars and Stripes.