No matter how hard managers – at present Tata Martino and in the past everyone who has held the job – have insisted, a line of thinking has persisted among Mexico fans. We’re going to win this easy. This team has nothing on us. This will be a blowout. Increasingly, it is not a blowout. Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Haiti in a Gold Cup semifinal booked a place for El Tri in the final of the tournament. But it also showed just how far other teams in the region continue to come. It took extra time and a Raul Jimenez goal from the penalty spot for Mexico to lock up a victory. Haiti, a team that never had been in the Gold Cup semifinals before, pushed Mexico. Marc Collat’s side defended superbly over the first 90 minutes. Mexico got into the final third with regularity only to be rebuffed by center backs Andrew Jean Baptiste and Jems Geffrard or their teammates who also got back into the box. There were chances for the Caribbean side as well, though they struggled to put the whole product together as they had in previous matches. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare You can talk about FIFA rankings or disparity in budgets. Those things are factors, sure. But for 90 minutes, for even more than 90 minutes, Tuesday, Haiti hung with Mexico. It’s been a remarkable run for Haiti, and even as the players on their team put their hands on their hips in the final minutes of extra time, they refused to concede from the run of play. Just before the final whistle, Mikael Cantave fired off a curling shot that would’ve beaten Guillermo Ochoa had it dipped inches below the crossbar instead of banging off it. Haiti was in the game until the end. Really, Haiti has showed during an evolution over the course of the tournament. They’ve turned things around in three games when they were losing,” said Jorge Theiler, who led El Tri on the touchline with Tata Martino suspended. “Today it showed it can be a dignified opponent, a rival who gives it all until the last minute. Today, no team beats another team easily.”That’s not to say Mexico can’t reclaim its Concacaf crown with performances like this one. It is one step away and will face either a U.S. team that struggled in the same way against Curacao or a Jamaica team that also has had its bobbles. This is not new in international soccer. France did not stun on the way to winning the World Cup, but it deserved the triumph. El Tri also has a fair number of players clearly above the cut of many in Concacaf. Raul Jimenez isn’t smashing through scoring records but has amassed five goals in total. Guillermo Ochoa is keeping things clean at the back as usual.Now that he’s fit, Rodolfo Pizarro feels like he’s just a breakthrough away from dishing out several assists. Even Uriel Antuna has flashed his talent at the tournament. Haiti also has good players. They have a style of play. They have an idea of what they want to do. Mexico was stretched by Haiti. It was stretched by Costa Rica. It will be stretched by either Jamaica or the United States. Things are changing for the good in this region of the world overall. Powers like Mexico will have to prove they’re powers over and over again. The days of relying on a superior level of talent are over. It’s time to start taking teams like Haiti, Curacao or even Costa Rica and Jamaica seriously. It will only make everyone better.”It’s really good. Honestly, it makes me really happy for them. They gave everyone a big surprise in the tournament. They deserve our respect,” defender Diego Reyes said after the game. “We hope the level keeps growing for the tournament and Concacaf also improve their level.”The players on the field have always had that level of respect for other teams, and even if it has led to torturous, stressful moments for fans in the stands and watching at home, they now have the country just one game away from lifting the trophy in Chicago.