El Tri sure know how to throw a party.
Fresh off an impressive 3-1 win over Venezuela in front of a raucous crowd in Atlanta, the Mexican national team have arrived in Dallas in style for their final tune-up ahead of the Concacaf Gold Cup.
The inaugural MexTour Live Fan Fest was held downtown at City Hall Plaza, and supporters of all ages turned out to take advantage of the free event that featured local musicans, photo opportunities with the U.S. Open Cup and Gold Cup trophies, autograph sessions with Dallas Cowboy and Mexico national team alumni, and an appearance by the current squad. Award-winning singer Luis Coronel capped off the night with a performance.
A majority of the headlines in recent weeks have revolved around who is missing from Mexico’s roster for the upcoming competition. Star striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and his girlfriend are expecting a child during the tournament. Jesús “Tecatito” Corona didn’t get off to the best start with new head coach Tata Martino when he didn’t show for training in March, and the Argentine tactician elected to leave him out. Héctor Herrera is taking his first summer off in years amid a reported transfer from Porto to Atlético Madrid, while MLS leading scorer Carlos Vela elected to remain with his club instead of representing his country.
Martino has had to deal with several changes in the federation and now roster concerns in his opening months at the helm. He briefly shared his thoughts on players’ decisions to not partake.
"I don't think it's very common,” Martino told media. “It's not something I've gone through in Paraguay or in Argentina, but it's also true that a call to a national team is a type of prize for a player, a recognition of his career and the moment they don't see it like that it makes more sense that they not come in.”
Despite the absences, Mexican remain the favorites to take home the cup. Martino has a very strong list of players at his disposal with a mixture of bright young talent and familiar names such as Wolverhampton striker Raúl Jiménez, veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, and captain Andrés Guardado.
As FloFC’s Chloe Beresford noted in a previous article on sports and community, “the gathering of people reinforces the sense of community,” and the ability of a sporting event or team to unite and satisfy our human need to share experiences was on display in North Texas. For those in attendance, the chance to gather and see their national team heroes up close was truly something special.
I spoke to a few Dallas residents about what it meant to congregate with hundreds of other El Tri supporters who live in the States to send the team off in style. Anival, 28, Manuel, 29, and Noe, 29, all have extended family in Mexico and were thrilled to see their squad for the second time, including personal favorites Ochoa and Guardado. They were feeling great about the odds of Martino’s side producing results in their upcoming summer matches, illustrated by predictions of 3-1, 2-0, and 3-0 for Sunday’s friendly against Ecuador.
I also spoke with Susie, 22, and for her, the event was a great opportunity to meet friends on a Friday night and see their favorite players – Ochoa, Jiménez, and LA Galaxy midfielder Jonathan dos Santos.
“My family is originally from Chihuahua, so being able to see our national team here in the United States is pretty special,” she noted.
Martino’s men will face Ecuador on Sunday at A&T Stadium before kicking off their Gold Cup campaign on Saturday against Cuba in Los Angeles. El Tri will then travel to Denver to face Canada, followed by their final group stage match against Martinique in Charlotte.
The #MexTourLIVE has been a huge success. Great opening acts were followed by an appearance by the @miseleccionmxEN and a performance by Luis Coronel. Kudos to the federation and Dallas #ElTriEng pic.twitter.com/tDd6loRffg— Wesley Davidson (@wesleynd2) June 8, 2019