Martino, Mexico use shuffling roster to beat Venezuela
ATLANTA (AP) — For all the players absent from Mexico's national team, new coach Tata Martino may still have a roster solid enough to make a strong run in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Martino returned to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for his first game in Georgia since leading Atlanta United to the MLS Cup last season, but his thoughts were only on El Tri, which beat Venezuela 3-1 in an exhibition on Wednesday night.
Roberto Alvarado scored from the box to tie it 1-all in the 32nd minute, and Rodolfo Pizarro got the goa-ahead goal in the 53rd as he tapped in Jesus Gallardo's cross. Andres Guardado gave El Tri a 3-1 advantage in the 76th minute.
This was Mexico's third exhibition under Martino and its first since El Tri beat Chile and Paraguay in friendlies three months ago. Mexico faces Ecuador in a friendly Sunday in Arlington, Texas, for its final tune-up before the Gold Cup.
Mexico's roster has several notable absences heading into its June 15 match against Cuba at the Rose Bowl.
Hirving Lozano is out with a knee injury. Carlos Vela, Javier Aquino and Jesus Corona reportedly declined call-ups. Javier Hernandez is absent because of the birth of a child. Miguel Layun is out with a medical issue. Hector Herrera is dealing with fatigue and has an impeding transfer.
Marco Fabian and Ivan Rodriguez didn't play because of ankle injuries. Carlos Salcedo was out with a knee injury, but is hopeful to return for the Gold Cup. Diego Lainez and Juan Jose Macias, both starters on the Under-20 World Cup team, are not on the roster.
Mexico has 10 victories and is unbeaten in 14 games against Venezuela. The last meeting ended in a 1-1 draw June 13, 2016, at the Copa America in Houston.
Venezuela led 1-0 in the 18th minute when Jhon Murillo's goal from the right sideline sailed over goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco, glanced off the crossbar and into the corner of the net.
Venezuela, which plays an exhibition against the U.S. on Sunday in Cincinnati, had goalkeeper Wuilker Faríñez back after he missed a friendly against Ecuador last week in Miami to play for his club team.
Coach Rafael Dudamel is trying to finalize La Vinotinto's roster for the Copa America opener against Peru later this month in Brazil.
Venezuela, the only South American nation never to qualify for a World Cup, was the runner-up to England in the last Under-20 World Cup, arguably its biggest achievement on the world stage.
Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez did not start for Venezuela, but played the entire second half. He and Martino embraced and smiled before the match.