Mexico are yet to hear the decision on whether or not they will be allowed replacement players for the players they sent home for doping, but if their first two games are any indication, they don't need any. A 17 man squad appears to be working just fine for El Tri, who have 10 goals in two games. El Salvador and Cuba are considerably weaker opposition than tonight's opponent, Costa Rica, but a team still has to be on their game to score 10 goals in two games in just about any professional competition.
Giovani dos Santos looks like a man reborn, while 'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez looks exactly like the player we assumed he would be. Gio has finally stopped being a bunch of unfulfilled talent, missing chances left and right, and started playing like the star he should be. Chicharito now has 19 goals in 25 games in a Mexico shirt.
Today, they will probably have to up their games. Costa Rica were very disappointing in their last match against El Salvador and it's possible that they're not a legitimate challenger to Mexico, but they are still the best team that Mexico have faced up until this point in the competition. Bryan Ruiz, their best player, will finally start and probably go 90 minutes. Christian Bolaños and Celso Borges will continue to look dangerous. And if Alvaro Saborio gets the chances he got in the El Salvador game, he probably won't squander them.
Costa Rica has shown a willingness to use both a three-man back line and a four-man back line, and Mexico is likely licking their chops thinking about the former. If Costa Rica opts for a back three, it wouldn't be surprising to see Mexico swap the positions of Pablo Barrera and Andres Guardado, turning their setup into what essentially becomes a 4-3-3 with a double pivot, simply to have a good matchup against that back three. Ricardo La Volpe is a great coach, and he probably knows better.
Soldier Field will be packed for tonight's game, and it will be raucous. With a great crowd and two great teams on display, it'll be a spectacle worth watching for any football fan.
El Salvador vs. Cuba
With their performance against Costa Rica, El Salvador proved that they're one of the eight best teams in this tournament and worthy quarterfinalists. Tonight, they need a win to prove it. It will likely set up a date against Panama or Jamaica, a difficult but winnable game.
For more on Mexico vs. Costa Rica, the 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro), and Mexican football in general, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.