Mexico, Canada lose Gold Cup openers
PASADENA, Calif. -- Gabriel Torres scored twice to lead Panama to a 2-1 victory over Mexico in the first round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at the Rose Bowl on Sunday.
"We have to analyze the situation and come back in better form and look to get to the next round," Mexico coach Jose Manuel De La Torre said. "The main objective is to qualify for the World Cup. Of course, we also have this objective to try and get this Gold Cup title."
Mexico, Panama, Canada and Martinique are competing in Group A. The top two teams will advance, along with two of three third-place finishers. Mexico has work to do to advance.
Mexico, an automatic qualifier in the Gold Cup tournament, lost its two prep matches before this tournament.
"All the teams in the world, teams like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have these types of situations," De La Torre said. "We have to keep working to get back in the best circumstances possible."
Panama showed Mexico how much work is needed.
Torres gave Panama a 1-0 lead with a penalty kick in the seventh minute, capitalizing on a foul committed by Mexico's Raul Jimenez on his teammate Alberto Quintero. Mexico goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco guessed right on the penalty, but Torres' shot was just out of his reach.
Mexico tied the score during first-half stoppage time. Israel Hernandez lofted a pass to Marco Fabian, who was charging toward the box. He used his chest to settle the ball down before firing a shot past goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
Fabian came within a couple of feet of adding his second goal before the half ended.
Torres scored the go-ahead goal in the 48th minute after taking a pass from Quintero and threading the ball through the two-foot gap between Orozco and the near post. Torres one-timed the shot with the side of his right foot.
"It's important to start like this," Panama coach Julio Dely Valdes said. "We have said that we needed to come in here and get results. We won."
Panama was playing without Blas Perez, who was in the Los Angeles area but playing for his Major League Soccer team, FC Dallas. He should be available for Panama's next match.
Dely Valdes has a strategy that uses a lot of his younger players on the squad. Torres made it pay off.
"Players like Gabriel Torres have done a good job," he said. "We have to keep giving young players minutes and opportunities. We have to keep giving them minutes to keep doing a good job."
Mexico was thought to be a heavy favorite among Group A teams.
Bad passes, missed shots and a strong defensive effort by Panama contributed to Mexico's downfall.
"I think that we have committed errors that have cost us a lot," De La Torre said. "They have also cost us in moments where we had opportunities to score goals. We had two mistakes in the beginning of each half. We had opportunities to score and couldn't take advantage of them."
Panama will play Martinique, a 1-0 winner over Canada on Thursday in Seattle. Mexico will play against Canada also in Seattle on Thursday.
Martinique 1, Canada 0
Fabrice Reuperne scored in the 92nd minute to lift Martinique to a victory over Canada on Sunday at the Rose Bowl.
"It's a bit disappointing to lose in the last minute, but I can't fault the players for their attitude and efforts," said Colin Miller, Canada's interim coach. "I felt that we made things very difficult for ourselves by giving the ball away too easily."
The victory was a first for Martinique in Gold Cup competition over Canada. The teams tied in group play during the 1993 Gold Cup, but Canada got a 6-5 penalty-kick win in the 2002 quarterfinals.
"We still have bad memories from that quarterfinal against Canada," Martinique coach Patrick Cavelan said through a translator. "(Reuperne) was the same player that missed the penalty kick in that game. We got revenge for him."
Martinique didn't bring an especially impressive resume into the tournament. It qualified for its first Gold Cup entry since 2003 by finishing fourth in the CFU Caribbean Cup.
The team won its two prep matches, but those were against an amateur selection squad from Oregon and the Portland Timbers under-23 squad.
Martinique controlled the action through most of the first half but failed to score, partly because of alert goalkeeping by Milan Borjan but mostly because their shots were missing the net.
Captain Kevin Parsemain was the offensive leader for Martinique, making passes to all sides of the field.
Canada's first scoring chance came in the 10th minute when Marcus Haber's header, off a corner kick, was saved by goalie Kevin Olimpa.
Martinique was spurred by Parsemain's scoring chance in the 20th minute. Frederic Piquionne threaded a pass to Parsemain in the box, but the shot was turned away by Borjan.
Cavelan counted eight scoring opportunities in the first half and seven more in the second.
"If we had not gotten that late goal, we would be regretting the missed chances," he said. "We need to work at being more efficient."
Canada tried to jumpstart its offense early in the second half when Miller substituted midfielder William Johnson for forward Simeon Jackson in the 51st minute.
Jackson brought life to Canada's offense by using his speed to put Martinique's defenders on their heels. He was a few steps away from a breakaway in the 72nd minute when he was pulled down by Gregory Arnolin. Arnolin received a yellow card.
"I don't want to take anything away from Martinique," Miller said. "They did very well.
"We're going through a rough transition period. What happened today is a culmination of a lot of different things through the years. It's a massive rebuilding process. It'll be some time before we fix it."
Miller was picked as the temporary coach for Canada in January while the Canadian Soccer Association looks for someone to do the job on a permanent basis.
The Group A teams will move to Seattle, where Canada will play Mexico, and Martinique will play Panama.