Mexico Vs. New Zealand: Friendly Preview, El Tri's Last Tune-Up Before Gold Cup

SEATTLE - MAY 28: Giovanni dos Santos #10 of Mexico and other teammates leave the pitch after the match against Ecuador at Qwest Field on May 28, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Mexico and Ecuador played to a 1-1 tie. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Coming off a 1-1 draw against Ecuador in Seattle, which marks the third time in less than two years that Mexico could not defeat the Ecuadorians, Chepo's men will now face New Zealand. This match will be their last preparation game for the Gold Cup, which kicks off on June 5.

In the match against Ecuador we saw what might be de la Torre's final Starting XI, with perhaps a few exceptions; Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez for Aldo de Nigris, Rafael Marquez for Hector Moreno and Carlos Salcido for either Jorge Torres Nilo or Ricardo Osorio.

To the surprise of many, Giovani dos Santos seems to be a secondary choice for Chepo de la Torre. His first choice seems to be in Antonio Naelson "Sinha." However, Sinha has left the squad and made a trip to Brazil due to the recent death of his father, which means he will be missing for this friendly and most likely will also miss the first Gold Cup match against El Salvador. It's an unfortunate event that gives Giovani dos Santos an opportunity to sneak into a starting position.

There is no doubt that when Giovani dos Santos is on the pitch, Mexico looks like a different team. He gives them flare, speed, skills and the intangibles any player with his talent possesses, not to mention he is coming off a very good second half of the season playing for Racing Santander in La Liga. He is likely, and the most adequate player, to replace Sinha during this match. Sure, coming off the bench as he did on Saturday is good to catch defenders off-guard and fatigued, but having him in the starting lineup could only be better. 

In the opinion of many, there is just not enough space for both Sinha and dos Santos in the same lineup, and de la Torre seems to have his mind made up on who will playing on the wings: Andres Guardado and Pablo Barrera. 

Barrera has not seen much playing time in England but that does not seem to have affected his skills in any way. He was El Tri's best player on the pitch during the Ecuador match and has been for the past couple of friendlies. Mexico fans will be hoping it continues this way throughout the Gold Cup.

Another thing we can expect is the start of goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera as part of the rotation that will lead to having the number one keeper in place. Guillermo Ochoa had a good game on Saturday but was not threatened much and there was not much he could do in that bullet Arroyo shot past him for the equalizer. It's a tough choice for Chepo, do you go for experience or with someone you know and trust?

On the other hand, New Zealand came to the States with a 23 men squad which has now dropped to 20 due to injuries. In the squad are six players that participated in last year's World Cup and most of them will likely be part of the eleven that start the match on Wednesday. Also in the squad are four MLS based players: Elliot, Boyens, Gleeson and Boxall.

The Kiwis, as they are known, will be facing Mexico yet again after that 2-0 loss in March of last year in preparation for the South Africa 2010 World Cup. There isn't too much at stake here for the Kiwis but nonetheless, they will be looking to upset what will be a sold out stadium filled with Mexico fans.

In all fairness Mexico should walk away a winner in this one but New Zealand will come to play a similar game as we saw the last time they met. Therefore, we're likely to see an open match. In the end, a win could only help El Tri to gain confidence before their first Gold Cup match on Sunday.

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