On Thursday, what at first looked like a thrilling performance from Mexico gradually turned into a dull and straightforward 1-0 win over Honduras.
El Tri hit the ground running with an early goal in the Gold Cup quarterfinal, and was deserving of at least a second shortly afterwards, but failed to sneak anything else past the opposition. As for Honduras, there was little threat from the Central American side that didn’t truly pressure Mexico until the last 15-20 minutes of the match.
— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) July 21, 2017
Almost playing as if the squad was already up by two or three goals, El Tri didn’t capitalize on a number of chances in the final third as the match progressed. The again, it looked like Mexico already had the win secured when you consider the fact that Honduras was struggling with El Tri’s game of “keep away.”
After a couple of threatening moments from Los Catrachos in the last minutes, Mexico eventually scraped past Honduras with a narrow 1-0 victory.
Before El Tri gets ready to face Jamaica in a semifinal clash this Sunday, let’s first take a look back at three Mexico talking points from the recent win.
1. El Tri was constantly a step ahead with possession
Although Mexico nearly avoided a highly questionable result, most of the team played very well throughout the match.
With less of a focus on rotations or experimenting, El Tri’s strong starting XI dictated the pace of the game through a dominant midfield. In the center of the pitch, both Jesus Molina and Jesus Dueñas stepped up for Mexico and had no real trouble from Honduras on Thursday.
As a false nine, Angel Sepulveda confused the opposition’s backline with his movement that covered a surprising amount of space in the attack. It’s fair for some fans to have wanted a more traditional striker like Erick Torres in his spot, but it’s also important to note that Sepulveda was productive with his presence in the frontline.
Criticisms of the “dull” game aside, credit must be given to El Tri for its clever distribution and movement that regularly perplexed Honduras.
i haven’t seen Mexico dominate a mid in a long time. #HON a bit confused using the back line of 5.
— Wiso Vazquez (@WisoVazquez) July 21, 2017
2. Edson Alvarez is quietly thriving in the Gold Cup
Alvarez doesn’t always stand out for Mexico.
Unlike an entertaining winger like Elias Hernandez, or a high-pressing defender such as Raul Lopez, the 19-year-old at times is overlooked in his role at the Gold Cup.
However, it’s also difficult to find very many negatives about Alvarez as well. Whether he is playing as a right-back or a defensive midfielder, the Club America player has consistently proven to be a confident and reliable asset in the tournament.
Against Honduras, Alvarez was everywhere with his clearances and tackles as a right-back. Once he was moved up into the midfield, the youngster never hesitated with his interceptions and passes going forward.
Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio clearly values the versatility of a defender, and if Alvarez continues to shine for El Tri, one can’t help but think that he will continue to hold a strong relevance for the national team in the future.
Edson Alvarez can play CB, RB, and DM without a problem. Europe, here he comes!
— El Tri (@ElTriFutbolero) July 21, 2017
3. Despite the win, Mexico must improve its attacking efficiency
Alright, alright, now we have to bring up the “dull” aspect from earlier. That issue might not matter much to Osorio or his squad, which is fair, but there is an underlying problem to uncover.
During various moments, Mexico was far too patient with its chances in front of net. Orbelin Pineda and Erick Gutierrez were both mostly at fault for these situations in which both of the wingers didn’t capitalize on a clear opportunity for a shot.
The complaint is small, but one that is worth remembering against a potential challenger such as Costa Rica or the United States. While Honduras was more than happy to let Mexico stroll through the midfield and attack, the same chances might not arise in the Gold Cup final.
Just shoot the ball. #ElTriEng
— Cesar Hernandez (@cesarhfutbol) July 21, 2017
Mexico’s best player on the field — Jose de Jesus Corona
Alvarez is a worthy mention, and so is Dueñas, but this award has to go to Corona. Although Honduras wasn’t the most threatening side, the quarterfinal could have easily gone to penalties if the goalkeeper didn’t produce a few vital saves and stops.
Hats off to the veteran that continues to look like one of Mexico’s top players in the Gold Cup.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 21, 2017