In a sold-out SoFi Stadium Sunday evening, Mexico claimed glory over Panama with a late goal in the 88th minute to win their ninth CONCACAF Gold Cup championship,putting them two titles ahead of their American counterparts. Mexico extends their record of most Gold Cups with this win, but more importantly they reclaim their throne as kings of CONCACAF.
Thousands of fans flocked to Inglewood to witness the finale of the 17th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The final had a higher attendance rate than when the stadium hosted the Super Bowl in 2022, with a total of 72,963 fans showing up to watch Mexico vs. Panama.
Throughout the first half, Mexico had more than their fair share of scoring opportunities. They looked to have taken the lead in the 33rd minute when striker Henry Martin smashed the ball into the back of the net after a precise pass from midfielder Luis Romo. Unfortunately, after using VAR for closer inspection, the referee deemed Martin to be offside and the game was leveled once again.
Although Panama did not have many scoring chances, what they lacked in offense, they made up for in defense. The Panamanian defense disrupted Mexico’s attack numerous times and was completely locked in. The standout defensive play came from goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera minutes before halftime, when he did not just save the ball once, but twice. Mosquera dove right in front of goal and swatted away a shot from winger Orbelín Pineda, and then immediately blocked a ricochet shot from Martin using his legs.
As the match wound down, it looked more and more likely that it would go to extra time. That all changed in the 85th minute when striker Santiago Giménez was subbed on. Just three minutes later, he received the ball at the center of the field from Pineda, and took off on a terrific run in which he battled and outpaced Panama defenders Harold Cumming and Fidel Escobar. Once he reached the penalty area, Giménez slotted in a bouncing shot into the corner of the net solidifying Mexico’s victory and himself as El Tri’s newest star.
Even though it was Giménez who secured the win, the one really responsible for Mexico’s success is interim manager Jimmy Lozano. Since taking over the national team, Lozano has rejuvenated life into a failing team and brought confidence to this young squad. Now that the Gold Cup is over, Lozano’s contract with Mexico comes to a bittersweet end. As the Mexican federation begins their search for their next manager, I believe there is no better option for the position than Lozano himself. He already has the full support and backing of the players and fans, and with how quickly he has elevated this team, I think he has proven himself as the right manager to lead Mexico into the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Although an accomplishment, Mexico must not be content with winning the Gold Cup. Even though they reclaimed their throne as kings of CONCACAF, USA and Canada are not far behind. Within the coming months they need to improve and grow as they start to prepare for next summer’s Copa America. In this tournament, they will not only face their typical CONCACAF rivals, but will come face to face with South American heavyweights like Argentina and Brazil.
The 2023 Gold Cup was an important tournament for the Mexican players. Not because they won their 9th title, but because they were able to gain confidence, establish much-needed new playing tactics and rediscover the passion that comes with playing with the Mexico badge.
Mexico’s next match will be an international friendly against Australia at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX on Sept. 9th.