Mexico won their final home game against Trinidad and Tobago 3-1. The win came after a roller coaster of a performance where Trinidad and Tobago took the lead and Mexico had to react until the final minutes to pull off the win in a sold out crowd in San Luis Potosi. Mexico qualified for the World Cup two games before, and although they went with their A team to these last two games, the only goal is to end up in first place of the Hexagonal round. Here are some takeaways from the game:
Mexico paid for their overconfidence. With qualification wrapped up and facing the last place team, Mexico seemed to have taken their foot off the gas pedal preparing for the game. On Tuesday, they had an open practice for fans that raised funds for victims of the earthquake. The practice was light and after it ended there was a meet and greet with the fans. This is totally acceptable since there are things more important than football, especially if a game is meaningless. What wasn't understandable was that Mexico didn't travel to San Luis Potosi until the day before the game and then they went straight to a dinner with the Governor and the people behind bringing the National team to San Luis Potosi. They didn't even go to the stadium to practice. This, of course, might explain why the team didn't seem to click at all for most of the game. Their passivity during the whole first half looked a lot like the team was just waiting and expecting for Trinidad and Tobago to crumble and they did anything but. It wasn't until they took the lead that Mexico finally put the foot on the gas and were able to win the game. It's a meaningless game and they did get the result but this is thing Mexico and Juan Carlos Osorio have to take care off as it already almost cost Mexico when they did a similar thing against New Zealand in the Confederations cup.
Their club situation is having an impact on the players. More than many games in recent memories, last night could've shown that players club situation in having an effect on their performances. The biggest warning sign is that for his third straight national team game, Carlos Vela looked bad. Vela has lost his starting spot in Real Sociedad after he signed with LAFC and it's been showing. While he is talented, the lack of playing time has translated to his worst performances since he came back. Carlos Salcedo and Diego Reyes, both of whom have been relegated to the bench in their clubs, were the weakest points on defense. On the other hand Hirving Lozano, who has had the best season so far of the players in Europe, came in as a sub and changed the game. Before him it was Andres Guardado and Tecatito Corona, who both are among the ones who get the most playing time, who were the best players on the field. It will be interesting to see how Osorio deals with players who are in Europe but not getting action on the field.
San Luis Potosi might point to the direction of moving games away from Azteca. After World Cup qualification was clinched, Mexico moved the final game to San Luis Potosi. The sold out crowd cheered for Mexico all game and didn't abandon the team after Trinidad scored first. This is something that might not have happened in Mexico City, where the crowd is supportive but turns on the team when they aren't playing well. While players have complained before of the crowd in Azteca, there were few complaints this time, which might lead to the federation to consider playing outside Mexico. The bad news for San Luis Potosi is that they failed to curb the famous chant and the federation might look elsewhere to a place that doesn't do it and thus where they won't get fined because of it.
Against Honduras the priority must be no injuries or suspensions. Mexico closes out the Hex with an away game against Honduras in San Pedro Sula. After this final win at home, Mexico needs now to concentrate on not getting any red cards or injuries. With Honduras needing to get points to qualify for the World Cup, it will be a tough game on a hostile climate. Mexico should try to get the win but not at the cost of a red card or an injury. A first place finish in this final round would seem a total waste if a Mexican player gets to miss a game in the World Cup (a red cards means the one game suspension will be at the World Cup) or the World Cup because of injury. It will be nice to get a win but the true win will be if all 14 players on the pitch are healthy and without suspension when the game ends.