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.