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As Mexico prepares for its final pre-hexagonal match against El Salvador, Nayib Moran looks back at five important observations from the win over Guyana.
Angel Reyna falls short to a Naniesque flip in the air as his teammates follow him while he points towards the bench. Before his face was distressed, but now Chepo de la Torre sits and smiles. In front of a crowd of almost 13,000 in Houston’s downtown soccer venue, Reyna's goal capped the scoring as Mexico defeated Guyana 5-0.
The score is what least matters. The fact that Mexico scored all of its goals in the last ten minutes of the match has no relevance. What does have relevance is Angel Reyna’s excellent interpretation of the game, Chaton’s versatile pace as the sole central midfielder, Chicharito’s attitude and not falling into the trap of those malinchista fans who booed him, and Andres Guardado’s confidence in shooting outside the box.
- Sinha and Gerardo Torrado’s inclusion in the starting eleven results in more negatives than positives. Sinha will always hold a special spot in Mexico’s football history. Who can’t forget that goal against Iran in Germany 2006, or his formidable strike against Japan in the 2005 Confederations, Ricardo Antonio LaVolpe’s biggest coaching success. Torrado has been a Mexico midfielder since 2002; his leadership off the pitch and capacities with the ball on the pitch are unquestionable. But the Guyana game exposed their long mileage and multiple battle scars. Both players operated at one or two bars below the rest. Torrado came off for Jorge Enriquez due to a muscle injury, while Sinha deteriorated Mexico’s offense power as opposed to improving it. Their days playing for Chepo’s Mexico are running short, or almost done.
- Chicharito traverses his toughest moment as a footballer. He was booed. The most renowned and influential Mexican player since Hugo Sanchez is currently at a crucial moment in his career, but instead of receiving the crowd’s compassion, he receives its cruel side. Chicharito is not a Falcao or an Higuain. His opportunities in Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United are more or less nonexistent. His lack of playing time is clearly affecting him, causing him to fail on headers, miss first touch passes, and bungle his movements inside the box, qualities that saw him rise to the top in his first year as a Premier League player.
- Chaton inspires the masses and shuns those who questioned him. The press called him a clumsy player who lost the ball easily. He also got called tronco. Today, the Chivas midfielder is one of Mexico’s top players. He is one of the few Mexican players who provide Mexico fans a sigh of relief on corner kicks at both ends. He is able to snatch the ball away from the opposing team and begin a counterattack for his side. With Chaton on the pitch, Mexico has a bastion, one who is able to connect the defense and offense. Those who once questioned, now applaud his game.
- Reyna keeps calm and knows that his chances are minimal, hence the wonderful Guyana goal. He wowed the crowd with his goal and celebrated his goal effusively. Reyna knows his chances are short. He knows that if he truly wants to go to a World Cup, he has to mature and play well day in and day out. He should learn from other player’s mistakes like Nery Castillo, who worries more on bashing on Jorge Vergara than finding ways to improve his career on the field. When Reyna wants to play, he is an artist with cleats; it’s just a matter of time and personal maturity.
- Fernando Schwartz, ESPN Deportes soccer reporter and analyst, provided a series of tweets exposing a critical outlook on the Mexican soccer fan. One tweet read as follows – “De verdad que en Mexico somos futboleros de nacimiento y malinchistas de vocacion. Que dificil es analizar, y mejor tirar piedras por hobby” (Really in Mexico, we are footballers from birth and malinchistas for vacation. How difficult is to analyze and better to throw stones as hobby). The crowd booed and the press questioned multiple times why the score was 0-0 for the first 75 minutes of the match. John Sutcliffe, also an ESPN Deportes reporter and analyst, mentioned on his twitter feed that he witnessed Chepo’s worst ever first half. It was not a pretty game, but it was also not the moment to highly criticize the coach’s strategy. Yes, the inclusion of Sinha and Torrado were questionable calls, as was the substitution of Elias Hernandez for Israel Jimenez, when you had a special player such as Hector Herrera warming up. The goals arrived, though, and the game ended with a comfortable victory. What matters is the fact that Jose Manuel de la Torre still has almost two years to plan Mexico’s biggest World Cup participation.