Honduras didn’t put up much of a fight at the Estadio Azteca. Intent on stealing an away point in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying, Los Catrachos quickly parked the bus during Thursday night’s clash against Mexico.
However, following a goal from Oswaldo Alanis in the 34th minute, El Tri was able to easily maintain possession and control the pace of the game.
Honduras’ plan, which was set on frustrating the opposition through an aggressive style of play, could do little to halt ensuing goals from Mexico through Hirving Lozano in the 63rd minute and Raul Jimenez in the 66th minute. By the time the final whistle blew, Honduras found itself without a single shot on target in the 3-0 loss to El Tri.
As for Mexico, with the three points in hand, the squad has already exceeded its tally from the previous World Cup qualifying run. Back in 2013, El Tri embarrassed itself with a disappointing total of 11 points gained over 10 qualifying matches. Thanks to some help from the United States, Mexico was able to limp to an inter-confederation playoff that later ensured a last-minute spot for the 2014 World Cup.
Luckily for El Tri fans, Mexico has yet to recreate the same kind of nightmare scenario in the current Hexagonal.
After just five matches, El Tri is comfortably sitting at the top of the Hex with a respectable total of 13 points. Mexico has yet to gain a loss in the current round of qualifying and has only allowed one goal during the aforementioned games.
Before we begin to preview the following qualifying match between Mexico and the United States on Sunday, let’s first take a look at the three talking points from El Tri’s most recent win.
1. One unfortunate injury for Mexico, but no suspensions earned
Ahead of the match against Honduras, many Mexico supporters were anxious about the possibility of a suspension for key players. To be exact, a total of six were carrying yellows into the game against Los Catrachos.
Although an injury to Salcedo will leave the defender out of Sunday’s gameday roster, the rest of the squad was able to avoid another yellow which could have led to a spot in the stands against the United States.
Now, it will be interesting to see who takes over Salcedo’s position. Will it be a backup such as Jesus Dueñas? A versatile wing-back like Miguel Layun? There’s also a decent chance that Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio will decide to go with a three-man backline.
Either way, although Salcedo will be missed, El Tri fans can breathe a sigh of relief that no other players will be missing from Sunday’s game…for now.
2. Mexico earned a big win without key players
Perhaps what was most impressive about the win was the fact that several first-team players were left without minutes. Whether it be due to injury concerns or a cautiousness over a possible suspension, Osorio left out marquee names such as Javier Hernandez, Hector Moreno, Marco Fabian, Miguel Layun and Andres Guardado.
To be able to earn a comfortable win over Honduras, without the likes of the aforementioned starters, must be applauded. It was a risky move from Osorio to leave out those players, but it’s also on par with what the Colombian typically does with his rotations.
Which brings us to another point.
3. Despite criticism, Osorio continues to excel with El Tri
It’s understandable why some are frustrated by Osorio’s decision-making. His roster selections appear disorganized and chaotic, at times almost arbitrary. Mention the word “player rotation” to most Mexico fans you’ll likely get a frustrated response to the manager’s style.
Yet, underneath it all, there is an organization and methodical approach to everything that Osorio does. The Colombian, who has a Science and Football degree from Liverpool’s John Moores University, is a futbol fanatic. When you listen to any interview with the manager, it becomes immediately apparent that Osorio is a well-educated coach who is infatuated with the beautiful game.
There’s a method to his madness, and although it can sometimes look out of the ordinary or strange, there’s no doubt that it has led to recent success for Mexico.
Granted, most of his wins have been gained against CONCACAF opponents. Later on this month, it will be fascinating to see if El Tri’s leader on the sidelines is capable of garnering more wins in the high-profile Confederations Cup tournament.
Mexico’s best player against Honduras — Jonathan dos Santos
Dos Santos was a genuine joy to watch on Thursday. The 27-year-old, who didn’t seem to be exerting too much energy, easily weaved his way through the midfield with his accurate and clever distribution. The former Barcelona player was a step ahead of everyone else on the pitch with his intelligent movement that constantly helped connect the midfield with the attack.
Despite the long list of talented players that Osorio has, Dos Santos must continue to be a starter for the national team.