Mexico impressed but also fell short Tuesday night with a tie against Argentina in Arlington’s AT&T stadium. Though the stadium brought its own challenge with some of the worst grass I’ve ever seen professionals play on, most of the challenges for El Tri were self-fulfilling.
Here are five things that stood out:
1. Rafa Marquez is still the great savior of the defense.
My last comments about the defense for the Trinidad and Tobago stand true today. Only instead of getting figurative images of what Mexico looks like without Rafa, we got literal representation of the long-time veteran brings to the table for El Tri. There was assertiveness. Confidence. There was direction on how to play and when to play it. Couple that with Moises Munoz’s great performance for the majority of the game, and we saw great chemistry from the back line that did not have that much to worry about.
Jose “Gallito” Vaz quez helped out with that playing the defensive mid and helping the backline with whatever he could do. Then Tuca took both him and Rafa out within a matter of minutes and it all fell apart. In just ten minutes, Argentina managed to tie the game. It is likely Rafa will play the playoff against the United States but realistically speaking, there are not many years left in Rafa and Mexico needs to find someone to take his spot before 2018 comes around.
2.The starting keeper for Mexico is still up for debate.
Despite the unfortunate error by Munoz in the last minutes of the game, his performance throughout the match was very impressive; much more impressive than that of Talavera’s during the T&T friendly. He came out. He jumped to get the ball against forwards and defenders alike. He called for the ball. There was a great amount of confidence in him. The mistake that cost him the clean sheet can make his place as the starter debatable but considering Tuca most likely is not bringing Ochoa and his other option is Talavera, looks like the keeper for the playoff will be Munoz.
3. Mexico was the stronger team,
The last minutes of the game do not reflect the overall performance of the either team. Messi did not show up until his goal and the rest of the Argentine side looked clumsy for most of the game as well. The 2-2 draw left a bad taste but overall, Mexico was the better team. Rafa held the defense to a strong position, Herrera, Vazquez and Guardado did great playing in the midfield and the attacking front had plenty of chances to finish (even though they didn’t, the chances were there). Herrera’s goal put him in a better place following the last goal he made against T&T. Collectively, Mexico looked strong and it served them well for future matches.
4.Chicharito played better but making too many mistakes.
He scored the penalty that secured the lead for Mexico in the first half but that doesn’t take away from the amount of misses he had in both halves of the game. Chicharito has had a rough time of it from a club standpoint. His time at Real Madrid did not live up to expectation and he finally had a decent amount of playing time for Bayern Leverkusen not too long ago. But his recent stints for the Mexican squad have not been great performances. The match against Argentina was a recent example of what is going on with Chicharito. He had lots of talent and was able to be in the right spot, but he was not living up to his potential and missing more goals than he should be. The penalty kick saved him (and that is probably why he was so insistent on shooting it) but the rest of the game was not great from him. Too many mistakes and not enough result. It would be best not to have him start against the United States.
5. Tuca is unpredictable and the coaching position needs lots of work.
After seeing the line-up for the T&T match, Tuca’s methods were questionable. The line-up for the match against Argentina was much more expected considering their opponent and worked out well for the majority of the game. But as is the case with the Mexican side, the coaches oftentimes make changes at the worst times. Hector Herrera and Gallito Vazquez were taken out and Rafa was shortly injured afterward, leading to a complete deterioration of what was holding the team together. Perhaps it was just a ploy to let them rest but choices must be made wisely. The game was great as a definite confidence booster but the match ended in a tie in which the two goals from Argentina came in just ten minutes. Both the US and Mexico have a lot of work to do before their match-up but Mexico’s biggest problem could actually cost them the match: their defense. And considering Tuca is only coaching up until that game, that leaves the power of directing this dilemma in the hands of a silhouette man that has yet to be named.
It is a very dangerous place for Mexico to be in.