Mexico's Miguel Layun (pictured) arrives at the team hotel in Arizona for its Copa America Centenario opener against Uruguay. (Photo: Mexsport)
PHOENIX, Arizona -- They posed for a “selfie” in the locker room Wednesday night. Miguel Layun posted the picture with teammate Javier Hernandez on Twitter with the caption: “This guy celebrates birthdays by scoring goals.”
The 27-year-old Porto defender was referring to Hernandez’s 86th minute goal that gave Mexico a 1-0 win over Chile in an international friendly at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. It was the final preparation match for Mexico before starting the 2016 Copa America Centenario.
Naturally, the game-winner was special to the man turning 28-years-old, but it was as well for Layun, who made the cross that resulted in the goal – an emphatic header near the left post.
A birthday gift for one player, a milestone for the other. Layun not only had an assist, he did it while wearing the captain’s armband for the first time.
“It was a very special night for me in that sense for being the captain,” said Layun. “It will stay with me forever, without a doubt.”
There’s no doubt Mexico overcame a worthy opponent in Chile -- the defending Copa America champion -- ahead of its tournament opener against Uruguay on Sunday at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The seven-time CONCACAF Gold Cup champion is now on a track to what could be a unique situation during the 100th anniversary of the South American championship. With the competition being played in the United States, Mexico is certain to enjoy the kind of fan support that could factor into potential success.
“Mexico has always shown to be a competitive team,” said head Juan Carlos Osorio, who is a perfect 7-0-0, since taking the managerial reins in October. “This time, is no exception. I think Mexico has a great chance.”
Mexico reached the Copa America final in 1993 and 2001, and finished third three times (1997, 1999, 2007).