Looks like Jimmy has Team Mexico headed in right direction after all

El Tri Ghana

Erick Sánchez and Edson Álvarez close out Ghana’s Elisha Owusu during Saturday night’s friendly in Charlotte, North Carolina. El Tri won 2-0. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Aztec Nation after El Tri victory: ‘That’s what I’m talkin’ about!’

Second-half goals from “Chucky” Lozano and sub Uriel Antuna guided a sturdy Mexico to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Ghana as El Tri moved to 5-2-1 under coach Jimmy Lozano.

After a jittery start featuring forced passes and a few slack turnovers, Team Mexico grabbed control of the game, finishing the first half with 56-percent possession. Neither team managed a shot on goal, but El Tri was more poised and more dangerous as a result.

Just 12 minutes after the restart, Luis Chávez sent a quick free kick wide left to an unmarked “Chucky” Lozano and the PSV man dribbled into the box, cut inside a defender, then wrong-footed goalie Lawrence Ati Zigi with a skidder inside the near post.

After that, El Tri sat back a bit deeper and played off the counter, twice nearly converting breakaways before Antuna finally caught Ghana napping only 9 minutes after coming on.

Near midfield, César Huerta made a nifty move from the left flank, shaking free of his marker and dribbling toward the center of the pitch.

When a Black Star defender came out to close him down, “El Chino” flicked a pass through the vacated area, Antuna ran down the perfectly weighted pass and neatly slotted home with his left foot.

Just like that, Mexico was up 2-0 with less than 20 minutes to play. El Tri shut things down from there, helping skipper Guillermo Ochoa record a clean sheet.

Coach Lozano will be pleased with what he saw from his defense. Team Mexico was positionally disciplined, limiting Ghana’s speed via double-teams and outstanding spacing.

Under constant pressure from a green swarm, the African side failed to get a single shot on target, letting fly only 4 times in 90 minutes. With the loss, Ghana falls to 0-0-4 all-time against Mexico.

Three Stars of the Night

Edson Álvarez: The West Ham midfielder bossed the space in front of his back line and hunted down any Ghana player that dared venture into his vicinity. Edson nearly had a first-half goal, hustling forward to follow a quick Team Mexico rush in minute 30, racing onto a deflected pass only to blast a first-timer over the bar from 19 meters.

The entire El Tri back line: From left-to-right, Gerardo Arteaga, Johan Vásquez, César Montes and Jorge Sánchez put on quite a show. The foursome helped each other out constantly and shut down passing lanes into the box, while also moving the ball efficiently, controlling tempo and pushing forward effectively. Special recognition should be given to Arteaga, who looked smooth and confident throughout. The Vásquez-Montes duo looks destined to be the central defense pairing for some time to come.

César Huerta: The Pumas winger again provided a spark off the bench, exhibiting deftness with the ball at his feet. In just his third national team cap, “El Chino” got on the scoresheet yet again, providing a beauty of an assist on Mexico’s second goal.

What’s next?

Mexico will  travel from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Philadelphia for a Tuesday night clash against Germany, a 3-1 winner over Team USA on Saturday night. Die Mannschaft has dominated the series against El Tri, boasting a 5-5-2 record. However, one of those two losses came in a Russia 2018 group-stage match, the most recent meeting between the two sides.