Sporting Kansas City striker Alan Pulido collected his 17th cap for the Mexico Men's National Team on Wednesday night, entering in the 83rd minute of a 3-0 win over Guatemala at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
The result strengthens Mexico's hold on second place in Group A of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, two points behind leaders El Salvador and three ahead of third-place Trinidad and Tobago. El Tri can clinch second in the group with a draw in Sunday's group stage finale against El Salvador and would finish first with a victory.
The top two teams in each of the four Gold Cup groups will progress to the quarterfinals on July 24-25 (Arlington, Texas, and Glendale, Arizona), followed by the semifinals on July 29 (Austin and Houston) and the final on Aug. 1 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Pulido missed Mexico's tournament opener on Saturday, a scoreless draw versus Trinidad and Tobago, due to a foot injury the 30-year-old suffered in Sporting's 2-1 home win over LAFC on June 26. He landed his Gold Cup debut on Wednesday, replacing man of the match Rogelio Funes Mori with seven minutes remaining and El Tri nursing a three-goal advantage.
CF Monterrey star Funes Mori bagged the first two goals of the evening, hitting home impressively in the 29th and 55th minutes to put Mexico in cruise control. Cruz Azul midfielder Orbelin Pineda iced the game with a goal of his own on 79 minutes.
Sunday's contest between Mexico and El Salvador at the Cotton Bowl, slated for 9 p.m. CT on FS1, TUDN, Univision and the FOX Sports app, will decide which team tops Group A. Pulido could be poised for an increased role after working his way back to full fitness in recent weeks.
Held every two years, the Gold Cup is the regional championship for Concacaf and just like in the European Championships and Copa America, lifting the trophy brings prestige and regional supremacy. Over the course of 15 previous Gold Cup tournaments, Mexico has lifted the trophy a record eight times (1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2019), just ahead of the United States' six (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017). Canada is the only other tournament champion, coming away with the title in 2000.
BUSIO IN ACTION TONIGHT
After a stellar debut for the United States Men's National Team on Sunday at Children's Mercy Park, Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio is in contention for his first U.S. MNT start as the Americans return to the world-class stadium tonight for a Concacaf Gold Cup Group B showdown with Martinique.
Kickoff is slated for 9 p.m. CT, serving as the second-game of a Group B doubleheader that begins with Canada versus Haiti at 6:30 p.m. CT. Tickets gaining entry to both matches are available for as low as $33 on SeatGeek.com.