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 Group C finale between Honduras and El Salvador from the 2019 Gold Cup, followed by the 2011 Gold Cup Final between Mexico and the United States. Both matches will be shown on Concacaf’s Facebook and YouTube pages, plus the Concacaf App.
History was made in the 2011 Gold Cup Final as Mexico became the first team to rally from a two-goal deficit to win a Gold Cup Final when they defeated the U.S. 4-2 after being down 2-0.
The man who guided El Tricolor to glory in that tournament was Jose Manual “Chepo” de la Torre, who saw his team overcome several adverse situations to become champions.
“I think it was a good tournament in which the team showed a great mentality in overcoming all the circumstances. Overall, I think we played very good football during the tournament, beating some tough teams and getting to the anticipated Final against the U.S., which was a very strong team,” said De La Torre in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
Mexico set the tone for a brilliant Gold Cup campaign with a perfect 3W-0L record in the group stage, with 14 goals scored against El Salvador, Cuba and Costa Rica.
“It’s important to start a tournament in which you are scoring a lot, getting confidence and being able to create chances to unarm the defense of the opponent. The team played good football and scored a lot of goals, but they were still tough games,” said De La Torre.
Things took a difficult turn in the quarterfinals when legendary Guatemala FW Carlos “Pescadito” Ruiz scored to give the Chapines an early 1-0 lead, which Mexico eventually overcame, 2-1.
“Guatemala made it very difficult for us, with El Pescadito scoring early, it made us dig deep. We were dominating play but they defended very well. In the end we were able to come back, but they made us sweat and work the entire 90 minutes to do it. People think that it is easy to beat these teams, but when they work hard and arm themselves, they can make it tough for you, so you have to play your best in order to win,” said De La Torre.
That paved the way for a semifinal clash with Honduras and it took extra time before Mexico could finally take down the Central Americans, 2-0.
“Honduras tested us. They played well, they had several scoring chances, including a clear one at the end of the game when GK Alfredo Talavera had to make a big save. We were able to score at the start of extra time on a corner kick with an Aldo de Nigris header. It made Honduras open things up and we were able to score a second goal that gave us the tranquility we needed to reach the Final,” said De La Torre.
In the Final against the U.S., Mexico quickly found themselves down 2-0 after 23 minutes, but managed to keep their nerve in the most crucial of moments.
“Coming back from 2-0 down was not easy, but the big thing was making sure the team stayed patient, knowing that we could do damage and score goals on the U.S. We didn’t lose focus, we didn’t get desperate or panic and I think the key play was when Pablo Barrera scored the first goal, because it gave an injection of confidence to the team and then we ended up tying it before halftime with chances to take the lead,” said De La Torre.
Mexico would take a 3-2 lead in the second half through a second goal from Barrera, before Giovani dos Santos would punctuate the comeback with arguably the greatest goal in Gold Cup history.
“It was a spectacular. He does a couple turns and then shot it from an angle in which he had to clear the jumping defender. It was a really wonderful goal. I think the team took advantage of their abilities even though the U.S. had a great team. It was an even game with two teams having different styles, but it was an attractive game and I think that’s part of the healthy rivalry that exists with the U.S. The U.S. made us express ourselves to the maximum to be able to win,” said De La Torre.
On a personal level, being able to raise the trophy in such a setting was like a Hollywood ending for De La Torre.
“It was a wonderful feeling to do it with the players for all of the things that they went through, the pressure that comes with playing for Mexico. In the movies, it is always the U.S. who is behind and comes back, and here it was the opposite. We were able to come back against such a great team with great players, so that feeling of alleviating the pressure and knowing that you are champion is something to be enjoyed to the maximum,” said De La Torre.