By Ivan Orozco
SEATTLE – Raul Jimenez didn’t have a lot of time to react.
His teammates corralled him in an instant after he scored his first goal with Mexico’s senior national team. The Club America striker netted in a 2-0 win over Canada in Seattle on Thursday. It is a moment that he’ll remember for a while.
“Anytime you score a goal it is a special moment,” said Jimenez, who made only his second start with head coach Jose Manuel de la Torres’ team. “It doesn’t matter how you score it. It can be on a volley from outside the area, with the nose or with your head. It doesn’t matter how I imagined my first goal would come, but it is nice to have scored the way I did.”
Jimenez tallied in the 42nd minute to break a scoreless draw with a strong header as he charged into the area off a right-footed flick by Jorge Enriquez from a corner kick.
“I am not sure if it is the most important goal of my career as of now because of other things I have done, but it’s something nice to be able to score in that way,” he said.
Jimenez added the scoring play was something Mexico had worked on in practices leading to the match against Canada. He did not expect, however, to be the one on the receiving end.
Canada's Haber another injury concern
Canada interim head coach Colin Miller’s Gold Cup squad hasn’t had a lot of luck lately. It lost three players, possibly for the remainder of the tournament, before Thursday’s 2-0 setback to Mexico. And it might have lost another during that match.
Miller said Marcus Huber could miss Canada’s third match against Group A leader Panama on Sunday due to an ankle injury the striker suffered against Mexico.
“My biggest concern is that if everyone kept dropping off, Colin Miller might have to make a comeback,” said Miller, who was a stalwart on Canadian national teams in the 1980s-1990s. “We will have to evaluate [Huber] in the next few days.”
But despite the personnel issues, Miller was happy with the team’s performance.
“You miss those players with quality but I do think the players we have stepped up well,” Miller said. “We finished the game with two 18-year-olds. These players learned a whole deal. I’m proud of our players.”
Improvement all around
Coaches from both Mexico and Canada were pleased with the way in which their teams bounced back from losses in their respective Gold Cup openers.
Mexico’s de la Torre, under intense media and fan scrutiny, perhaps welcomed improvement on the field the most.
“We did improve in a lot of areas but the team still needs more work,” de la Torre said. “We need to be able to create more scoring chances and complete them. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and we knew they were going to close up in the back. The team was better and we got a result that helps us plenty to grow in the upcoming games.”
Canada has yet to score in the Gold Cup, but Miller sees his team improving.
“I don’t take anything away from Mexico. They were a team that was struggling,” he said. “Mexico worked real hard to break us down. They didn’t create a hundred opportunities. We didn’t defend well on the corner kicks and that’s how they scored. The second goal, I won’t talk about any more. You take those things away and we are in it.”