Derby County forward Nathaniel Mendez-Laing played a key role in helping Guatemala reach the Quarter Final stage of the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday night.
Guatemala claimed top spot in Group D after coming from behind to stun Guadeloupe 3-2 at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey to secure la Azul y Blanco’s first appearance in the knockout stages since 2011.
Andreaw Gravillon put Guadeloupe ahead after 27 minutes before Rubio Rubin equalised for Guatemala a few minutes later, although they fell behind again a few minutes later courtesy of Ange-Freddy Plumain’s penalty.
Mendez-Laing then set up Rubin to score his second of the game from close range to make it 2-2 and then, with 15 minutes remaining, Carlos Mejia thundered home the winner to confirm the victory for Guatemala – although they had to survive a late scare as Matthias Phaeton missed a penalty in the final minute of normal time.
Guatemala will now face Jamacia in the Quarter Finals on Sunday 9th July at the TQL Stadium in Cincinnati as they bid to make it into the final four of the competition.
After being named in their squad for the Gold Cup, Mendez-Laing claimed his first international cap in Guatemala’s Group D opener against Cuba in Fort Lauderdale last week and he set up the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory, while he also started in their 0-0 draw against Canada at the weekend.
Mendez-Laing, who made 51 appearances for Derby in the 2022/23 season and scored eight times, has missed the start of pre-season training ahead of the 2023/24 campaign with Paul Warne’s squad but he will join up with the Rams’ squad once his international commitments have concluded.
The 31-year-old forward qualifies to play for Guatemala through his grandmother and also his mother, who were both born in the Central American country, and he recently secured the relevant documentation to represent them at international level.