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Carlos Salcedo looks back on penalty shootout vs. Costa Rica: “We kept our focus”
Carlos Salcedo of Mexico # 3 and Jonathan McDonald of Costa Rica seek for possession of the ball in the Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals on June 30, 2019 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
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MIAMI, Florida – This Friday at 7:00 PM ET, Concacaf will be airing a re-broadcast of two Concacaf Gold Cup classics, the first being the 2019 Gold Cup quarterfinal between Mexico and Costa Rica, followed by the 2017 Gold Cup semifinal between Jamaica and Mexico. Both matches will be shown on Concacaf’s Facebook and YouTube pages, plus the Concacaf App.

The quarterfinal contest between El Tricolor and the Ticos was as nervy as it gets, but in the end, Mexico would claim a 5-4 penalty shootout win following a 1-1 draw, with DF Carlos Salcedo converting the decisive spot kick.

“It was a great match. We were able to control much of the game but we had those gaps that led to us conceding the goal. After that we were trying and trying, but had to go to PKs and that was pretty exciting,” said Salcedo in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com. “Also, I think when anything like that gets more tense and emotional, for the fans it is good, but for us players it’s not as much fun because we have to deal with a PK situation,” added Salcedo.

While some might be overwhelmed by the pressure of a penalty shootout in a Gold Cup knockout round match, Salcedo welcomed the feeling of coming through at a big moment.

“For us it was complicated because I think we played a pretty good game and for us to concede that goal it was like, ‘Oh my God, we could be out’. It’s not like a group stage game where you can lose and then win the next two, but in this case whoever wins goes to the next round. I think we maintained our focus really well. It’s one of those emotions that when you talk to people who have retired from the game, they miss that sensation and that’s why I like to play these type of games, so you can continue to experience those big games and have something to tell your kids and grandkids,” said Salcedo.

With the shootout tied at 4-4, Salcedo stepped to the spot and was convinced that his attempt would reach the back of the net,

“I try to execute it the way I know how. I have my strong side and once I go to take the PK, I already know which side I am going to take it and I’m never going to doubt, even though I might see that’s the strong side the goalkeeper has. For me I’m just going to put it there. When I’m walking, I’m thinking that my only goal is to put it in the back of the net,” said Salcedo.

That penalty shootout win propelled Mexico to consecutive 1-0 victories in the semifinals and Final versus Haiti and the United States, respectively, to earn El Tricolor their eighth Gold Cup crown. Salcedo credits both the team’s respect for each opponent and their physical preparation as the keys to winning the title.

“Teams in Concacaf have been getting tougher every single year. In every game we were expecting the best of Canada, the best Haiti, the best U.S. team and that gets you to the point where you know you’re basically competing in like a World Cup. For me that was our best strength because we never underrated another team and that helped us. 

“Also, the physical part was important. We had the fitness coach who when it was time to recover, he did it really well. I think sometimes they don’t get much credit, but that was basically our strength because two games in a row we played an extra 30 minutes and when we got to the Final we knew we had more than half of a game on us instead of the U.S., who never went to extra time,” said Salcedo.

On a personal level for Salcedo, the 2019 Gold Cup represented his first trophy with the Mexican Senior National Team and was won when the player was going through a very difficult moment.

“I got a tattoo for it. All of my tattoos are based on significant things and significant moments so for me it was a great experience. I was going through a tough time and I didn’t want to play at the time because my grandpa was pretty sick and I wanted to be with him. The coaching staff spoke with me and told me that they were going to support me. After I lifted the trophy, I thought, ‘Everything paid off’. I was so happy to win it. I thought, ‘A month ago I was ready to quit and now I’m lifting the trophy,’” recalled Salcedo.

With that achievement under his belt, Salcedo is eager to return to action with Mexico in Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022 and continue to set a new bar within the national team.

“I’m expecting to always break the records that the past players did. Last time I had the fortune of playing the qualifiers and we got 24 out of 30 points, so this time I would like to make 25, 26, 27 and have that feeling of going to the World Cup knowing that we did everything at a high level,” concluded Salcedo.

 
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