- Associated Press - Friday, July 10, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Mexico is one of only three teams to have won the Gold Cup. And it started this year’s version looking like a favorite, routing Cuba 6-0 in a game that really didn’t test the Mexicans.

But don’t be fooled, says Mexico coach Miguel Herrera. There are several teams that could provide an obstacle to Mexico winning its seventh Gold Cup in 13 tournaments.

Herrera said it was obvious that Cuba, which was without several players because of visa troubles and had one player leave the team this week, was the exception. Group C, which includes Mexico, may be one of the weaker groups. But Herrera said he’s been impressed with teams in other groups, and that trouble could come from several other teams playing in the tournament for North and Central American and Caribbean countries.

“This tournament’s very even,” Herrera said through a translator. “I mean we had a weak opponent today, but … the U.S. national team won well (in its first Gold Cup match), Jamaica had a good game, Trinidad and Tobago had a good game. All these are good teams.

“Sure, the group play looks easy for us, and we had an easy game today. But the second game, and third game and second round could all increase in level of quality, and the teams in the second round will be good teams that will deserve to be there,” Herrera said. “We expect it to be harder as we go along; that’s just how tournaments work.”

Mexico defender Miguel Layun noted that his country seems to have more trouble with teams in CONCACAF than other teams in the world.

“Sometimes I guess we just relax a little bit in these kind of matches,” Layun said. “That’s why it was so important to play like that today, keep that intensity … try to score as many goals as we can.”

Oribe Peralta scored a hat trick, and even without injured forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Mexico made it look easy against Cuba. Peralta scored in the 17th, 37th and 62nd minutes. Carlos Vela scored in the 23rd minute for Mexico, and Andres Guardado got an easy goal when he was unmarked in the box and got a free header. Second-half substitute Giovanni Dos Santos appeared to score in the 71st minute, but was ruled offside. But then, in the 76th minute Dos Santos got free again and scored the final goal for the Mexicans.

The Cubans never seriously threatened the Mexican goal, and rarely even ventured far into the Mexico half of the field.

A raucous heavily pro-Mexico crowd of 54,126 nearly filled Soldier Field for the match.

Both teams play their next Group C matches on Sunday in Phoenix, when Cuba will play Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico will face Guatemala. Trinidad won the earlier opening Group C match, beating Guatemala 3-1.

Mexico has won six of the 12 Gold Cup tournaments, while the United States has won five. Canada won in 2000.

Cuba coach Walter Benitez said after the match that he hoped the six players delayed by visa troubles would join the team for Sunday’s match, but didn’t comment on the departure of Keilen Garcia, who left the team this week in Chicago.


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