Mexico ready for pressure of ‘do-or-die’ Copa game vs. Ecuador

Mexico‘s Johan Vásquez said the national team is in a “do-or-die” situation for Sunday’s Copa América group stage game against Ecuador, when a place in the knockout stage will be on the line.

In front of what is expected to be a majority pro-Mexico crowd at Glendale, Arizona’s State Farm Stadium, the Genoa defender acknowledged the burden of needing to claim a victory in front of their fans to secure a place in the quarterfinals.

“Sometimes you also have to know how to play with that pressure,” Vasquez told reporters in the team’s pregame news conference Saturday. “A teammate, a couple of years ago, told me it’s a privilege to have this type of pressure that not many have, and it made an impression on me.”

“For us [tomorrow] … in short, it’s do-or-die and knowing how to play with that pressure.”

Sitting alongside Vasquez, Mexico coach Jaime “Jimmy” Lozano agreed with his player’s sentiment.

“The pressure, this is fortunate pressure. Fortunate because we are in the best place that a Mexican soccer player, that a Mexican coach, could be,” he said.

El Tri head into their final group stage game with three points from their first two matches of the tournament.

After kicking things off with a 1-0 win over Jamaica in their opener, Lozano and his men then fell short of expectations with a first-ever defeat to Venezuela in an official competition when losing 1-0 on Wednesday.

Coupled with a growing number of worrisome results since late 2023, and with the recognition that a draw or loss on Sunday would guarantee an early exit in the Copa América, Lozano finds himself on the hot seat.

“As a coach, you know that you depend a lot on the results,” Lozano said when asked if his job is on the line against Ecuador. “In the end, I have to try to get as much performance out of the players as possible, obviously doing things well, and that’s why I’m calm.”

Mexico, two-time finalists in the Copa, will seek to avoid a third group stage exit in their last four appearances in the tournament.

Level on three points with Mexico, Ecuador are also seeking a place in the quarterfinals this weekend, but only need a draw to go through thanks to their superior goal differential.