Mexico had to settle for a point with Honduras as both sides played out to goalless stalemate at the Estadio Azteca on Tuesday night.
Here are my three takeaways from Mexico’s draw with Honduras:
Mexico and Honduras bore at the Azteca
Anything less than a win to Honduras on Tuesday was always going bring up questions over whether Juan Carlos Osorio deserves to lose his job. The bare facts don’t look very bad for Osorio. The team finished unbeaten in this round of World Cup qualifying and only conceded once in six games. Still, a scoreless draw with Honduras provided many caveats, and the frustration of Mexico’s nightmare elimination from the Copa America Centenario still runs deep among El Tri’s supporters.
But if you are the in #FueraOsorio camp or not, you have to agree this game was awful. Honduras almost always offers an awkward challenge to El Tri, and this game was no different.
Under Luis Fernando Suarez, Honduras was a side more suited to stop their opponents with tactical fouling and scoring off long-ball transitions. With Jorge Luis Pinto now at the helm, Los Catrachos look a far bit more removed from the team that benefited from wrestling their opponents down to the floor. It could even be said that Honduras play a more organized style of play. That, however, was never going to make any difference in this game. Honduras came to the Estadio Azteca to earn a point, and earn a point is what they did.
To Osorio and Mexico’s credit, the team didn’t start to gradually fade as in so many recent matches against CONCACAF opposition, but that didn’t stop El Tri from not being able to score a goal. At the end, all we got was a boring game and boos raining down from the home crowd.
Diego Reyes had a poor game
Mexico had many problems in this match, but one of the biggest revolved around one of their most important players on the pitch. The entire structure of this Juan Carlos Osorio team depends so much on its defensive midfielder, and Reyes, who started in place of Rafael Marquez, made the whole structure look so fragile from that position. Diego Reyes had one his worst displays in recent time, but the more worrying aspect is that this simply reemphasizes the issue of not being able to find a replacement for Marquez.
Mexico’s greatest necessity may be finding a defensive midfielder technical enough to move the ball forward and powerful enough to slide back and help the defense. Here, Osorio opted to play Andres Guardado at defensive midfielder to end the game, and as soon as the PSV captain grabbed the ball, El Tri immediately improved. Guardado is perfectly equipped technically, but the fear for Osorio is that when his team might need to do some defending, Guardado will get overrun (insert Jesús Dueñas against Chile here).
Reyes performance said so much about a position that rarely gets mentioned, but one that Juan Carlos Osorio really needs help addressing. After all, Rafa can’t last forever.
Pressure on Osorio only seems to be growing
It’s very difficult not to focus on Osorio and his future with the Mexico national team. No matter where you look, there seems to be somebody waiting for something to go completely wrong with El Tri just to point the finger at Osorio.
The irony is that up until that infamous day in Santa Clara, California, El Tri’s performances were more than acceptable. It could even be argued that Mexico had been playing with a bit more of a defined style of play.
Of course, something went horribly wrong against Chile, and thereafter, nothing has been the same for Osorio. In El Tri’s first game back at the Estadio Azteca, it was not surprising to hear fans chant “Fuera Osorio”. near the end of the game.
For the manager, it is looking increasingly likely that this criticism will continue all the way to the start of the hexagonal. El Tri’s first game against none other than the United States in Columbus, Ohio. What better way for Osorio to mend his relationship with the fans than with a historic win against the United States?