Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup, Group A: 'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez Scores A Hat Trick As El Tri Wins 5-0

Mexico begin Gold Cup play as favorites thanks to a potent attack and with El Salvador clearly outmatched, El Tri won't be challenged much in the tournament opener.

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The United States Is Not Catching Up To Mexico, The World

For years, there has been a myth perpetuated across the world that the United States men's national soccer team is steadily improving. Instead, they're stagnating, which might as well be a step backwards.

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup: Final Score, El Tri Win 5-0; 'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez Nets Hat Trick

After starting their game against El Salvador poorly, Mexico came to play in the second half and absolutely crushed El Salvador, thanks to a lucky goal by Efrain Juarez, a great substitution by Jose Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torre, and a hat trick by 'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez.

The first half was downright terrible, with Mexico looking like a team of strangers and El Salvador playing a generally dirty game. Mexico started the second half poorly too, but a lucky goal by Efrain Juarez, scored unintentionally with his head off of a rebound. At that point, Mexico were no longer afraid of losing and the floodgates opened.

Aldo de Nigris game on as a substitute for Israel Castro, who had a bad game, and immediately scored Mexico's second goal. Hernandez would then score Mexico's next three goals, with the final coming on a penalty kick, which was drawn on a foul that Marvin Gonzalez was shown a red card for. It was an absolutely massive half for Mexico and Hernandez, and with both El Tri and Costa Rica winning by five goals, the final game of Group A looks like it's going to be a classic.

For more information on the Mexico Vs. El Salvador game, the 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro), and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup: El Tri Score Three Quick Goals, Capped Off By Chicharito

For 55 minutes, Mexico were downright poor. They struggled to create anything as they consistently misplaced passes, and they made a huge mess of every single opportunity that they got. It was actually an embarrassing performance. Then, Efrain Juarez scored a lucky goal and the flood gates opened. Now, El Salvador are down 3-0, taking the beating that many predicted before the start of the match.

The first goal was assisted by Giovani dos Santos, who put in a low cross from the right side of the box. Juarez had his initial shot saved, but he fell on the rebound, somehow pushing it into the back of the net with his head unintentionally. It wasn't a pretty goal, but it gave Mexico the confidence they needed.

Aldo de Nigris came into the game for Israel Castro, who was awful, to be honest, and he made an instant impact, scoring a goal after splitting three defenders.

The final goal was scored by Javier Hernandez, who headed in a bit of an odd, scrambling attempt. Mexico are very much in control now and will probably not stop at three goals.

For more information on the Mexico Vs. El Salvador game, the 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro), and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup: Halftime, Score Tied At 0-0

If you tuned in to see the passing, flowing, football that Mexico are known for, you didn't get to see it in the first half. There wasn't much in the way of flair and combination play in the first half of their Gold Cup match against El Salvador, and as a result, the score is tied at 0-0 after a very poor first half.

Andres Guardado has been particularly poor, struggling to find the ball outside of his one missed sitter, while Javier Hernandez looks like he is playing with 10 strangers. Israel Castro and Gerardo Torrado, the two men who are supposed to start the attack and dictate the pace of play from the center of the pitch, have done nothing of the sort.

Most would agree that this is much more the fault of the players than Chepo de la Torre, as the general public believes that this is his best XI. They do not look particularly focused and motivated, though, and the chemistry looks completely off. Chepo will have to at least give his team a very serious talking to at halftime, if not make some kind of changes just to shake things up.

For more information on the Mexico Vs. El Salvador game, the 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro), and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup: El Tri Flip Wingers Pablo Barrera And Andres Guardado

Early on in the match, it's become pretty obvious that El Salvador has two goals against Mexico: Pack the midfield and deny service of the ball into the feet of Andres Guardado. To combat the latter problem, Mexico is swapping Guardado and Pablo Barrera between the left and right sides, but it hasn't done any good so far. Guardado isn't being allowed to have an impact on the game, and it's stifling El Tri quite a bit. El Salvador did their homework.

Still, Mexico have much more of the possession and they've created a couple of half chances. It seems like a goal is on the way for them eventually, but it's not going to come easy. El Salvador's defense has been great so far and it might be tough to crack.

There's no reason for Chepo de la Torre to do anything dramatic, even if things aren't going exactly to plan so far. This is his best setup and his best personnel group, and they have a better chance of figuring this out than any other players do.

For more information on the Mexico Vs. El Salvador game, the 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro), and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup: Someone Tell El Tri The Game Started

Someone might want to let the Mexican national team that they are currently playing a competitive football match. They have gotten off to a very slow start, and they're looking quite shaky. There's no question that they're a much more talented side than El Salvador, but their opponents have come out with a much different level of intensity and focus that El Tri will have to match quickly.

There's not really anything to be worried about yet for their fans, as it is quite early, but they almost paid for their slow start when El Salvador's Eliseo Quintanilla cracked a free kick off the crossbar, stunning Guillermo Ochoa. Mexico's defending on the ensuing free kick was a bit random and chaotic, and they should be happy that they still have a clean slate to work with on the scoreboard.

On an unrelated note, Univision's coverage so far is atrocious. They had extra commercials and joined the game late, then went to a split screen with Hugo Sanchez while the ball was in play. Simply terrible.

For more information on the Mexico Vs. El Salvador game, the 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro), and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Costa Rica Vs. Cuba, 2011 Gold Cup, Group A: Final Score, 5-0 Full Time

The general public didn't know much about Cuba coming into this Gold Cup, but since they had to qualify to get here, many were hopeful that they would at least be competitive. If this game is anything to go by, they won't be. Costa Rica absolutely obliterated a team whose players are all about to defect to the United States anyway, laying a 5-0 beating on their opponents.

Costa Rica were well in control of the match after going up 2-0 in the first half, but even the most optimistic Ticos fan couldn't have predicted what would happen in the beginning of the second half. It would only take one minute and 55 seconds for Costa Rica to score twice in the second half, pushing the score to 4-0 and effectively ending the game. They would add a fifth for good measure, taking an emphatic victory.

Young explosive striker Marco Ureña was named the man of the match after a great two goal performance. Costa Rica will be happy with the big addition to their goal differential and will now prepare for El Salvador, who they have to play before the big Group A finale against Mexico.

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro), Group A: Lineups

The biggest news out of the Mexico camp is that young stars Javier Hernandez, better known as Chicharito, and Giovani dos Santos will start the game tonight against El Salvador. Dos Santos wasn't a certainty because the status of Sinha was unknown, and many thought that Chepo de la Torre might rest Hernandez. Instead, Chepo has made one change from the New Zealand friendly, bringing in Chicharito for Aldo de Nigris and playing his first choice XI. Here are the lineups for tonight's 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro) encounter.

Mexico lineup: Ochoa; Salcido, Rodriguez, Moreno, Juarez, Torrado, Castro, Guardado, dos Santos, Barrera, Hernandez

El Salvador lineup: Montes; Anaya, Gonzalez, Turcios, Garcia, Hernandez, D. Alas, Flores, J. Alas, Quintanilla, Zelaya

The game kicks off immediately following the match between Costa Rica and Cuba, which should be sometime shortly after 8 pm ET, 7 pm local time. The game is taking place at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.

For more information on the Mexico Vs. El Salvador game, the 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro), and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Costa Rica Vs. Cuba, 2011 Gold Cup, Group A: 2-0 Halftime

Costa Rica have opted to rest superstar Bryan Ruiz in their opening Gold Cup game against Cuba, and so far, their caution has not been punished. The Ticos are much better than their opponents so far and they hold a well-deserved 2-0 lead at halftime.

When the lineups came out, it wasn't entirely obvious to the casual follower what the Ticos were thinking. Ruiz was out and six of the players in the lineup are listed on their roster as defenders. Their setup has been a 3-5-2 with the ball and a 4-4-2 without it, which has been very entertaining and impressive. The keys are Celso Borges and Bryan Oviedo dictating the pace in the middle, and they've been great so far.

The first goal was created by Borges, who sprayed a long ball from a deep position in midfield to the left wing in the 7th minute. Christian Bolaños ran onto it and put a cross into the box for Marco Ureña, who finished with an impressive toe-poke. The second goal was also assisted by Bolaños, who played a through ball to Alvaro Saborio in the 41st minute, the big striker ran onto the ball and thanks to some poor positioning by Cuba's goalkeeper, finished easily to put his team up 2-0 headed into halftime.

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Costa Rica Vs. Cuba, 2011 Gold Cup: Lineups

There's not much one can realistically say about the Cuba lineup. Very few have had the privilege of seeing them play, so nobody really knows how good (or not good) they are. Even the opposition scouting will be minimal, but I'd imagine that Costa Rica are probably pretty confident that they can get a result against their reclusive opponents.

Being extremely confident would probably be the reason Bryan Ruiz isn't featuring for Costa Rica, who appear to have chosen to rest the Eredivisie star. An injury is a possibility, but one imagines that would have been bigger news - instead it just looks like Ruiz is being held back for more dangerous opponents than Cuba. It'll be interesting to see whether or not that's a mistake.

Costa Rica lineup: Navas; Diaz, Oviedo, Mora, Marshall, Acosta, Salvatierra, Borges, Bolaños, Ureña, Saborio

Cuba lineup: Molina; Fernandez, Urgelles, Marquez, Y. Colome, J. Colome, Fransisco, Hernandez, Gomez, Cervantes, Lahera

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 World Cup: Chicharito Superb, But El Tri Need More From Supporting Cast

The Mexico vs. USA rivalry is reaching new heights. Now that the United States has emerged as a solid player in world football, Mexico looks like they have some catching up to do. Their hopes for once again getting the better of their northern neighbours mostly lies in their astonishingly talent batch of youth, led by Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez - better known as Chicharito.

But although the forward is extremely talented, Mexico's success will be dependent on those around him, says Tom Marshall of SB Nation's Mexican futbol blog FMF State of Mind. There are questions about each youngster, and Mexico's destiny will be largely shaped by how many of them reach the lofty heights promised by their undoubted talent:

The crux of the current Mexican situation on the field ... is the agitation surrounding the Mexican players that are around the same age as Chicharito. The Gold Cup is a chance to shine in the shop window for players looking to move from their present clubs: Guillermo Ochoa, Pablo Barrera, Andres Guardado, Aldo de Nigris, Hector Moreno, Angel Reyna, Efrain Juarez and Giovani Dos Santos.

If you exclude de Nigris, the dynamic of the Mexico-U.S. rivalry will be shaped largely to how those players develop over the next few years. Few dare to question their natural talent. Many in the know believe some of the above have more talent than Chicharito but lack the maturity to perform week in, week out. Now is the time for them to step up and follow the Manchester United man's lead.

Should the Mexican youth project yield significant results, the USA has reason to be scared of its status as El Tri's equals. We'll get our first good look at them against El Salvador.

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup: Chicharito Holds The Key To Mexico Success

The most talked about player on the Mexico team also happens to be the most important one as El Tri chase their second consecutive Gold Cup title. Young and scoring with regularity for Manchester United, Javier 'Chicharito'Hernandez was always going to get headlines, but he also happens to fill the position Mexico most need help.

The last time that Mexico had a good striker who they could depend on to finish chances was when Jared Borgetti was putting the green shirt on and even he couldn't be trusted in the last couple years of his international career. Since about 2005, when age began to catch up with Borgetti, Mexico has had a nasty habit of controlling the midfield and looking dynamic in the attack, but not getting the results they wanted because of poor finishing.

Meanwhile, the United States stole away Mexico's CONCACAF dominance. The first step was when the U.S. defeated Mexico at the 2002 World Cup. Mexico bounced back with a 2003 Gold Cup win, but since then, El Tri have not won a major CONCACAF competition with top teams. The 2005 and 2007 Gold Cups went to the U.S. and the Americans finished first in CONCACAF qualifying for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. The only thing that Mexico has won of late is the 2009 Gold Cup and that tournament came with both the U.S. and Mexico fielding weak teams, hardly something that El Tri can use in an argument to reassert their dominance.

A Gold Cup title this summer can tilt the power in CONCACAF in El Tri's direction though. Every country is bringing their top team and a spot in the 2013 Confederations Cup is on the line. Mexico just need to go out and win it, something Chicharito can have a huge role in doing.

All Gold Cup long, El Tri will dominate possession. There isn't a team in CONCACAF that can pass the ball as well as they can. They will also have no problem creating chances in the final third. Andrew Guardado and Giovani dos Santos are both in form and doing a tremendous job of running at defenders to unlock opponents' back lines. All Mexico needs is something to finish and if Chicharito showed anything, it is that he can finish.

Leading up to the Gold Cup, Mexico played two friendlies and were the vastly superior team in both. In only one match did the scoreline reflect the team's dominance though and that is because against Ecuador, Mexico and Aldo de Nigris in particular, couldn't finish their chances.

Not coincidentally, Chicharito was not with the Mexican team against Ecuador because he had the Champions League final earlier that day with Manchester United. He also didn't play a few days later against New Zealand. It has been a while since Chicharito played with the Mexico team so joining the team for the Gold Cup, he may get off to a slow start. That will hardly matter in the early going because no one El Tri will face early on should really challenge them.

That early going starts today against El Salvador in the Gold Cup opener. Chicharito is expected to start and Mexico is expected to have no issue getting three points, whether Chicharito is sharp or not. By the time Mexico get into the knockout stages though, Chicharito will be clicking and El Tri will have the finisher they have spent years waiting on.

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup, Group A: Game Time, Television Schedule, And Information On Costa Rica Vs. Cuba

The 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro) kicks off on Sunday afternoon with Group A play, and and you can check out the game from wherever you are in the world. Costa Rica takes on Cuba in the early game, while Mexico plays El Salvador in the late game. Here's all of the information about the games and where to catch it where you live.

Costa Rica Vs. Cuba - 6:00 pm ET, 5 pm local

Mexico Vs. El Salvador - 8:00 pm ET, 6 pm local

Venue: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX, USA

Television

United States: Univision

United Kingdom: British Eurosport (Early game only)

Canada: Setanta Sports Canada

International: Various legal internet streams (Most through gambling sites, which we choose not to promote. The presence and legality of this service varies from country to country.)

This game is not available with English commentary in the United States. The only 2011 Gold Cup games that will be broadcast in English in the United States are United States national team games, the semifinals, and the finals of the competition.

For more information on the Mexico Vs. El Salvador game, the 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro), and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup: Pablo Barrera Key To Mexico's Attack

With the Mexico vs. El Salvador match kicking off El Tri's Gold Cup campaign, it's a good time to take a closer look at what exactly makes the pre-tournament favourites tick. Mexico are an excellent team, capable of beating most anyone they match up against, but whether they can outright slaughter the opposition is an entirely different question. According to Eben Lehmann of SB Nation's Mexican futbol blog FMF State of Mind, the answer to the latter problem is in Pablo Barrera, right winger in the 4-2-3-1.

Barrera's spot on the right wing is one of the keys to Mexico's 4-2-3-1 formation. The strength of the three players behind the striker will likely dictate how dominant Mexico can be in this year’s Gold Cup. With Andres Guardado on the left, and Dos Santos now likely stepping in permanently for Sinha in the middle, it becomes an incredibly dynamic and talented unit. The trio should create all kinds of match-up problems for the rest of the CONCACAF teams. Barrera, Guardado, and Dos Santos were all brilliant in the first half against New Zealand, showing why they are the best three choices for these creative roles.

If that attacking trio - especially Barrera - can shine in the Copa Oro,we could be in for a series of magnificent performances from Mexico. For the sake of spectacle, let's hope that happens.

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Mexico Vs. El Salvador, 2011 Gold Cup, Group A: Favorites El Tri Kick Off Tournament Action

The 2011 Gold Cup gets underway on Monday in Arlington, TX with Group A action and appropriately, that means the tournament favorites and home-field advantage, Mexico, will be in action. The tournament may be played in the United States, but Mexico will benefit from overwhelming fan support in every match, all of which will be played in stadiums of at least 60,000 capacity that are expected to be sold out.

Tournament champions have to start somewhere and if CONCACAF Gold Cup favorites Mexico are to win the tournament, it will start with El Salvador. El Tri have hit their stride as they enter the Gold Cup with almost all of their top players in form for the first time in years. That, along with the issues their top challengers, the United States, are having and Mexico is in a good spot to win their second consecutive Gold Cup.

With Mexico being so superior to most of the teams in CONCACAF, they don't need to be at their very best from the start, but they will be challenged some. El Salvador is not a particularly strong team, but they are one of the region's best six or seven so El Tri weren't gifted some team like Grenada they could trounce. Group A also includes Costa Rica, clearly CONCACAF's third-best team and one that will make things tougher on Mexico than you would expect in a Gold Cup group stage.

The story of the friendlies leading up to the Gold Cup for Mexico was the emergence of Giovani dos Santos and Andres Guardado. Long considered two of Mexico's top young players, both have struggled to play well for any extended periods of time. For dos Santos, the question has been desire and discipline as his weight has fluctuated and rumors of excessive partying have dogged him. Guardado hasn't had the same concerns, but he has struggled to stay healthy, making his career full of starts and stops.

Now, both dos Santos and Guardado are healthy, fit and playing well. With both in the attack, El Tri have a deadly pair of players who are quick, skilled and blazing fast. They both played extremely well leading up to the Gold Cup and with Mexico's ability to hold the ball, the pair nearly completes the team's attack with go-to guys to break down opponents in the final third.

The emergence of dos Santos and Guardado is certainly good news for El Tri, but the struggles of the one-hyped young stars have not been the team's biggest problem in recent years. It undoubtedly was a talking point, but Mexico's real problem stretched back all the way to 2005, which is the last time Mexico had a top striker.

Jared Borgetti was Mexico's last top striker and since he age caught up with him six years ago, the team has been without a consistent finisher. They have one now though in Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, who made a name for himself worldwide with his play for Manchester United this season. Now that Mexico can turn their possession and passing into goals with a competent finisher.

It's highly unlikely that El Salvador give Mexico much of a match on Monday night. They have some quality with Rodolfo Zelaya and Eliseo Quintanilla, but they lack the top end talent to compete with a team like Mexico. El Tri will dominate the midfield and let dos Santos, Guardado and Chicharito (if Mexico plays him after missing the recent friendlies while he prepared for the Champions League final with Manchester United) go to work against what should be an overwhelmed El Salvador team.

Unfortunately for those seeking out competitive matches, the other match in the doubleheader won't be much better. Cuba is out of their depth against Costa Rica and will likely get run over, leading to a dominance similar to Mexico's over El Salvador.

What is worth watching is how and who the Ticos play. They suffer from having their best players ideally playing the same position so whether Marco Urena starts, where Celso Borges plays and how Christian Bolanos fits in will be interesting, if nothing else. Getting to watch Bryan Ruiz is always a treat too so there are things worth watching, just probably not the scoreboard.

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