Mexico started their 2021 season in the worst way by losing a 1-0 friendly against Wales. Wales is in the middle of World Cup Qualifiers and yet looked to be the most prepared team on the field. Even when they didn’t come out with their best squad, they looked to be better prepared than Mexico. Coach Gerardo Martino looked to not have done his homework, as the team failed to break through the Welsh side after trailing for most of the game. Mexico will now travel to Austria to face a Costa Rican side which they will meet a couple of more times in 2021.
The first half started with Mexico coming out with only one forward. Hirving “Chucky” Lozano was the lone forward, as both Henry Martin and Alan Pulido looked to be out because of injury, although Pulido made it to the bench. Wales meanwhile came with a team of few regular starters as they are in between World Cup qualifiers. A minute in it looked like Mexico had a play in the area and while Lozano seemed to have been brought down by a defender, no call was given. Then in a play that should have been called offside, Wales made a great combination play that ended with Kieffler Moore getting the ball in the area and getting a right footed shot past Mexico’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa for the 1-0. There was no VAR in the game, and thus Mexico was down a goal with a play that shouldn’t have counted. Mexico tried to respond, but they had a slow start especially for Carlos Salcedo, who had been at fault in the goal and gave away three balls that led to counter attacks from Wales. Mexico started to gain some possession, although their first attacks were easily handled by Wales. In the best play for Mexico, a long ball almost found Jesus Gallardo in a one-on-one but Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey came out and deflected the ball off his feet. After a couple of minutes where Mexico was finally able to impose their play, Jesus Corona made a good run into the area but his shot went wide. Wales got a long range shot from Dylan Levitt, but it went wide. Mexico then finally got a shot on goal when Luis “Chaka” Rodriguez shot from outside the area, but that was saved by Hennessy. Mexico continued to dominate possession but couldn’t break through a Wales team that was sitting back and defending very well. Mexico trailed at halftime after playing one of the worst first halves in the era of Gerardo Martino.
The second half started with Wales making two substitutions by subbing in Hal Robson-Kanu and Joshua Sheehan. Jesus Corona created a chance a minute in, but his shot went wide. After a good start from Mexico, Wales looked to have a good opportunity when Robson-Kanu came close after connecting with the ball in the area. Mexico had their best opportunity when Orbelin Pineda found Hirving Lozano in the area but his shot was saved by Hennessy in a great save. Later off the corner kick, Lozano came close from close range but his shot was saved by Hennessy and he was ruled to be offside, although replays showed he wasn’t. Mexico tried to respond by subbing out Luis Rodriguez and Andres Guardado for Jorge Sanchez and Rodolfo Pizarro. Wales then subbed in Brennan Johnson and Neco Williams. Mexico tried to have more possession, but they failed to control it like they had done in the first half and the team looked more disorganized in their attacks. Mexico finally got a chance when Orbelin Pineda got off a shot from outside the area that went just wide. Mexico subbed out Orbelin Pineda and Jesus Gallardo for Jonathan Dos Santos and Gerardo Arteaga. Wales would then sub in Gareth Bale. Mexico then spent their last move by subbing out Edson Alvarez for Diego Lainez. Mexico continued to battle, but they had no idea how to break through against a Wales side that was well placed defensively and solid while Mexico continued to be disorganized. In the last minute of play, Mexico had a chance but after a free kick, the ball fell to Jesus Corona, who skied his shot. Mexico wasn’t able to get the tying goal and closed a overall terrible performance.
Mexico gave a poor performance in their first match of 2021. A couple of players like Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera, and Guillermo Ochoa gave inferior performances to what they’ve given Mexico in prior outings. Carlos Salcedo meanwhile gave one of his worst games with Mexico. MLS players like Rodolfo Pizarro and Jonathan Dos Santos once again gave poor performances with the National Team. Losing against a Wales side that was in the middle of World Cup qualification is a bad result, especially since this was the most important game of the European tour. Mexico will now face Costa Rica, a CONCACAF side that Mexico constantly plays and who they are scheduled to play again in June in the CONCACAF Nations League. Thus Mexico and Gerardo Martino will have a small cloud over them regardless of a positive result on Tuesday but it could grow exponentially if it’s a bad one.