CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. That’s a hefty phrase isn’t it? Good thing there’s an acronym in there or else we could be calling it the “2014 Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football fourth round World Cup Qualifying…tournament.” For the sake of this article and my sanity, I’m just going to shorten it to “WCQ” if I need to say it again and speaking of short, there’s only a short amount of time before our beloved Mexico takes on Honduras and then the United States just a few days later.
Have things been going well for us? No (or as we like to say in Spanish, “no”). Carlos Vela and now Guillermo Ochoa have both decided to not take part in the games, we have yet to score a single goal in Azteca, and Chepo is on thin ice. Game after underwhelming game, Mexico failed to meet most expectations this year. Yet, in the middle of this tailspin towards the city of “No-world-cup-town” was a last minute salvation and hope for the team against the Ivory Coast. Yes, the game was a friendly, and yes it counted for nothing point-wise but it was the exact game needed before these crucial qualifiers.
Suddenly, the team was scoring, moving, and attacking like they hadn’t in over a year. We were literally averaging just one goal a game before-hand and then knocked in four against an arguably decent Ivory Coast squad. By now, you’ve heard all of the reasons for the success. Chepo’s willingness to bring in new players coupled with some more attacking tactics created everything that we’ve been wanting from the national squad this year. After months of Chepo stubbornly sticking to his guns, he tried something new (thanks to a talking to from papa FMF) and it worked beautifully. It was exciting and then suddenly frustrating. I went from screaming with excitement after the fourth goal to sulking because Chepo had not tried something similar earlier in the year. It was weird. Either way, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Mexico. Just when things were looking bad (really bad), Mexico was able to provide a decisive victory that seemed to answer of all our problems. Well, almost all of our problems, what about those European players abroad who didn’t play?
I don’t admire Chepo right now. No matter who he decides to start during the next two games, he is going to get plenty of criticism. I guess one of the easy decisions is for the starting keeper. Jose Corona easily gets the start after probably being the best player that I believe has played for Mexico this year. Alfredo Talavera and Jonathan Orozco are both worthy substitutes which once again highlight Mexico’s depth in the keeper position, even with Ochoa missing. In the middle of the defense, Hector Moreno and Diego Reyes should be given the start but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Chepo opts to have Maza in for Reyes. By now, Reyes should have already proven he should start and Maza should have already proven that he is prone to fundamental mistakes. Still, Chepo is one to stick with his veterans and Maza has time and time again snuck into the starting lineup. Severo Meza had a great game against the Ivory Coast and only has Hiram Mier to compete against in the right-back position. Mier is a great central defender who can also play on the sides but has not given me enough of a reason to start just yet. At left back, I believe Andres Guardado would be the best option, but Chepo would be the least likely person to experiment during such important games. Carlos Salcido has been decent in the back recently which will mean Chepo will more than likely rely on the veteran to start.
In the middle, Chaco Gimenez, Gerardo Torrado, and Fernando Arce will probably be given the start. I won’t be too disappointed if this happens (Torrado actually had a good game last time), but I can’t help but thing that Jesus Zavala or Hector Herrera would be a better option. While it’s usually a good idea for Chepo to have Torrado as a deep-lying midfielder, it might be somewhat foolish to assume that this would be a better option than a more offensive-minded midfield player at Azteca. Honduras are going to sit back all day against us and having another play-maker would be beneficial. However, Boniek Garcia and Roger Espinoza are still offensive threats for Honduras, which is why I think Zavala would be the best option. He’s a bit more (just a bit) of an attacker than Torrado, but will still drop a bit more than Herrera. On the sides, I think there are no doubts that Chaco and Arce shouldn’t start after their last performance.
On the wings, Angel Reyna and Gio dos Santos are both givens as well. Both have been excellent for their respective clubs and were vital in the attacking unit that looked effortless against the Ivory Coast. The striker, I believe should be Oribe Peralta. Is Chicharito one of our better players? You better believe it and there is always the possibility that Chicharito might work even better than Peralta with the new formation, but I can’t help but feel “Chepo-ish” when I say that Peralta worked well for us last time and think there is no need to change that as the start. Then again, even though Chicharito has been playing very little recently, he is still the owner of seven goals out of his last ten starts. Those awful games could have been even worse were it not for his goals. Which is why I think that even though Peralta should start, Chicharito should come in at the second half. To me, that seems like the only viable option. Also, the last thing I would want is for Chepo to start both of them together, anything but that please.
A win against Honduras and the United States is crucial. Even if we beat Honduras, there is still a good chance that we wont move from our precarious spot at third place in the Hex. As for the United States, if the stars align right they might qualify for the World Cup with a win against Costa Rica, but it looks like that qualification might have to wait for a win against us next Tuesday. Could you imagine that? The United States qualifying for the World Cup with a win against us in Columbus while we are set back once again? That can’t happen and if we are going to be honest here, we really wouldn’t deserve a spot in the World Cup if we can’t get at least three points during the next two games. For months it has been easy to assume that there are still more games to be had in order to qualify. Now there are only 360 minutes left to determine whether we are going to Brazil next summer and 180 of those will be played today and next Tuesday.