Guatemala one-ups Mexico, 3-2

Times Staff Writer

Guatemala Coach Hernan Dario Gomez talked this week about how he still was in search of a momentum-building win heading into next year’s World Cup qualifiers.

Search no more, coach.

Guatemala stunned Mexico, 3-2, in a game in which six red cards were issued in front of an energetic crowd of 42,349 at the Coliseum on Wednesday night. Guatemala’s last victory over Mexico came in 1969.

Midfielder Marvin Avila scored twice in the second half to give the Chapines the victory. The second was the result of a failed clearance attempt by Hector Moreno in the 74th minute in front of Guillermo Memo Ochoa’s net.


Guatemala came out fired up and surprised the crowd with a goal from Rigoberto Gomez in the sixth minute.

Cesar Villaluz and Carlos Vela scored in consecutive minutes midway through the first half to give Mexico a 2-1 lead.

At that point it appeared the game was going to end up being a coming-out party for Mexico’s “Golden Generation,” but it turned out to be one of the worst losses in the 11-month tenure of Mexico Coach Hugo Sanchez. His record is now 13-8-2 overall.

On the flip side, this is arguably the best victory for Guatemala Coach Hernan Dario Gomez. The team has never made a World Cup appearance, but there is optimism that Gomez can change that. Gomez, 51, has taken two other countries to the World Cup -- Colombia in 1998 and Ecuador in 2002.


“At the moment, I’m in somewhat of a difficult spot,” said Gomez on Monday after the team’s practice session at the Bell Gardens Sports Center complex. “I’m trying to build a team, but the results are just not coming. I have lots of experience and my resume speaks for itself . . . but it means nothing if the players are not responding to what you are trying to do.”

The players responded very well to what Gomez was trying to do Wednesday.

While no one is going to confuse this border rivalry with the one between Mexico and the United States, the game was eerily similar to the matches between “El Tri” and “Uncle Sam’s Army” in the 1990s.

There were shoving matches, hard sliding tackles, hard knock downs and, of course, plenty of red cards.

Mexico’s Cesar Villaluz and Gonzalo Pineda were ejected as were Carlos Ruiz, Gomez, Leonel Noriega and an unnamed assistant coach for Guatemala.

Gomez was ejected in the 60th minute after Pineda tackled Mario Rodriguez hard in front of the Guatemala bench. At first Pineda was shown a yellow card but Gomez came charging off the bench in search of a red. Pineda was later shown a red, but so was Gomez.

At that point, Guatemala had a 10-9 man advantage on the field, and they capitalized with two goals from Avila.

Mexico played 12 games in the U.S. this year and had a sub-.500 record of 5-6-1 in those matches.


Mexican prodigy Giovani dos Santos, 18, made his third career start with the Mexican national soccer team but he didn’t get many opportunities to show off his skills. He was substituted at halftime for Ismael Valdez.