As this Mexico vs. Ivory Coast match was a friendly, here are some quick thoughts on El Tricolor’s vastly improved performance…
Naturalized Players Situation
This past Monday, Manuel Lapuente (previous coach of Puebla), who appeared on Raza Deportiva on ESPN, commented on the situation of the dilemma between selecting homegrown talent and naturalized players. During his tenure of the Mexican National team, he felt that “there was no one of greater quality [at the time] than the Mexicans that he was managing.” Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong in his decision to omit any naturalized players on his squad. However, in today’s game versus Ivory Coast, Mexico prospered from such talent. (i.e. Chaco Gimenez) Gimenez, on multiple occasions, played architect and launched Mexico’s counter-attacks. Additionally, it was also nice to see Damian Alvarez get playing time in the final third of the match. Hopefully this is the beginning of bringing in naturalized talent into Mexico’s squad.
Chepo’s Headache Persists
With today’s match against Ivory Coast, Mexico, as a whole, performed exceptional. The back four was solid throughout the game and, in set pieces more specifically, finally picked up slack. Hector Moreno and Diego Reyes held their ground at center back fantastically. The middle finally clicked as well with the likes of Arce and Chaco controlling much of Mexico’s attacking threat. Altogether, Mexico were dangerous going forward, but were not nearly as wasteful in possession as compared to their previous games. The big positive is that today’s starting eleven has put forth competition for cementing their place as starters. Come World Cup Qualifiers in September against Honduras, Chepo will have to decide whether he should replace certain players in certain positions. Reyna over Barrera? Arce over Herrera? Peralta or ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez? Even Diego Reyes made an appeal to start over ‘Maza’ Rodriguez. Surely, Chepo will have a headache over choosing his next starting eleven.
Form is Often Put Aside
Fans and coaches alike, at times, put a player’s history over another player’s current form. A perfect example of this is with the dilemma of Mexico’s true striker for the next game. Take Oribe Peralta and Javier Hernandez. While many fans know Chicharito’s abilities to score on a given opportunity, too many fans often forget that form is not permanent. In truth, Chicharito was not in the best form this last Confederations Cup, yet Chepo brought him along to Brazil. And while Chicharito’s abilities shouldn’t be questioned, there should be an acknowledgment to other Mexican strikers who are in better form. Today’s match was that ‘acknowledgement’ to the Santo’s striker, Oribe Peralta. As a result, his two goals today proved to his coach, and more importantly to the fans, that he is currently the man to play up top.