Mexico shows its inexperience as Colombia rallies to victory at Coliseum

The Mexico national team will be back in Southern California in June for its second group-stage game in Copa América. And there’s a chance some of the players coach Jaime Lozano used in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Colombia will make that trip.

That would have been a risky bet before Saturday. But Mexico’s not-ready-for-prime-time players, playing in front of a matinee crowd of 64,609 at the Coliseum, gave a surprisingly good account of themselves, for the first hour at least, before wilting and giving away a 2-0 lead built on a first-half goal from Omar Govea and a second-half score from Guillermo Martínez.

But the rest of the game belonged to Colombia with Andrés Reyes and Roger Martínez scoring 14 minutes apart midway through the second half to even the score, setting up Andrés Gómez to win it for the South Americans two minutes into stoppage time.

Because the game was played outside a FIFA competition window, Lozano was without many of his first-choice starters, who are playing in Europe, and was unable to call up some of his best domestic players, who will be playing in Sunday’s Liga MX championship game. That left him with a young roster largely untested on the international level; seven of his starters were making their first appearance for Mexico, with three others coming off the bench to make their debuts.

And with Lozano’s aging team in desperate need of fresh blood, some of them could get another look soon.

With the exception of forward Roger Martínez and goalkeeper David Ospina, a two-time World Cup starter, Colombia’s team was almost as inexperienced.

Mexico midfielder Rodrigo López challenges Colombia forward Roger Martínez.

Mexico midfielder Rodrigo López challenges Colombia forward Roger Martínez for the ball during the first half Saturday at the Coliseum.

(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

After a pedestrian opening half hour, the game opened up late in the first half, a flurry of activity that eventually paid off in Govea’s goal in the 40th minute. The sequence began with Govea forcing a turnover deep in Colombia’s end and slipping the ball to Guillermo Martínez, who was charging into the penalty area. Martínez pushed it back in front of Govea, whose right-footed shot sailed over Ospina and under the crossbar for his first international goal.

Only one other player on the Mexico roster had ever scored for the senior team but that would change five minutes into the second half when Martínez doubled the lead with his first goal. Midfielder Jordi Cortizo set it up with a low line-drive shot from the right wing. Ospina dove and pushed it wide with one hand, but the rebound caromed to Guillermo Martínez near the far post and he scored off a tough angle to give Mexico a 2-0 lead.

The young Mexicans lost their poise after that with Reyes, who plays in MLS with the New York Red Bulls, getting Colombia on the scoreboard in the 55th minute, collecting a pass from Samuel Velásquez and sending a shot that deflected in off a Mexico defender. The goal was his first in his second appearance for Colombia.

Roger Martínez, who won three trophies during six years with Mexico’s Club América, then evened things for Colombia, taking control off a loose ball near the midfield circle, charging up the center of the defense and lining a strong right-footed shot from distance off a diving Rodríguez and just inside the right post.

Gómez, who plays in MLS for Real Salt Lake, settled things in stoppage time with his first international goal.

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