The lead-up to Mexico's opening match in this Copa America is one full of speculation. The debate as to how Mexico will organize on the field and which eleven will present has been varied. Would there be a three man back line? Would manager Juan Carlos Osorio really start Rafa Marquez? Would Hirving Lozano and Tecatito Corona form a formidable attack alongside Chicharito?
Once the lineup came out, many of the doubts that circled around the decision making of Osorio. Araujo, Marquez, Reyes, and Moreno could all be considered center backs. The inclusion of Javier Aquino over fan-favorite Hirving 'Chucky' Lozano didn't make many happy either. The confusing lineup left may confused - and worried.
Those worries were quickly abated. Mexico came out with some of their most cohesive and dominant play we have seen in recent memory. Mexico controlled nearly every aspect of the first 45 minutes. In particular, the play of Javier Aquino and Miguel Layun shone in the first half. Their combination play hurt the left side of the Uruguayan defense with consistency. Diego Reyes played well in the defensive midfield role. He was able to work well with Rafa in switching in and out of the back line while using his distribution skills effectively.
It was all just so beautiful. This was bolstered early when a perfect cross from Andres Guardado found the face off Uruguyan defender, Alvaro Pereira before beating Fernando Muslera for the opening goal. Four minutes in and Mexico had the lead. They didn't relent from there. Mexico moved the ball with fluidity and had several chances to expand their lead.
Just before halftime Matias Vecino received his second yellow card and put the Uruguyaans in the precariious position of being both a goal and a man down.
The second half didn't resemble the first half in many ways. Uruguay came out with newfound determination and desire to get this match back under control. They really did this with aplomb. Uruguay didn't look to be a man down and Mexico began to get frazzled. The fluidity on the ground ceased and long balls (and errant ones) took over. The usual rock in the middle, Andres Guardado was not his usual self. Perhaps from the consistent fouling or just not having the right day, Guardado continued to miss each pass. His day was over in the 73rd minute when he received his second yellow.
Uruguay immediately capitilized on the momentum with Diego Godin beating Talavera off the ensuring free kick. A dominant performance and what looked to be Mexico cruising to a big statement win and suddenly become level on score and in red cards.
Yet, resilient Mexico showed once more. In the 85th minute, the ever-present Rafa Marquez buried the ball in the back of the net to regain the lead for Mexico. Miguel Layun was able to push the ball back to Marquez who was all alone about seven yards out. Marquez crushed the ball with his true ferocity.
The stadium erupted in volcanic proportions. All the angst over Uruguay working their way back in to this match was washed away as the pro-Mexico crowd exalted. The game was back in the "home" team's hands.
Mexico would go on to add an insurance goal late as Hector Herrera was left alone on the counter.
The tactical approach of Osorio had its doubters before, but I would have to believe there are fewer now. Mexico were the better team on the day and it proved out in the scoreline. Uruguay were tough opponents for Mexico and showed their grit in the second half. Yet, the tactical approach of Osorio and the resilience of the eleven on the pitch proved out. Mexico look primed to top Group C and make a serious run in this Copa America.