After the first Concacaf W Qualification window, México is largely where they were expected to be. The team beat Suriname 9-0 in the opening match and beat Antigua and Barbuda 7-0. They are tied on points with Puerto Rico, but are in the lead by goal differential (+17 to Puerto Rico’s +14). No one else in the group has a win, and barring anything unforeseen the ticket to the Concacaf W Tournament will come down to the April 12 match in México between the two.
Mónica Vergara did well to get players minutes, with Alex Godínez the only player out of the 23 not to see any playing time. And the players who played did well, especially considering they faced two teams who were committed to defending and still managed to score 17. Going into the next window however, here’s what México should look to do as well as some things to ponder.
1.) Be more clinical in front of goal: Yes, México scored 17 goals in two games. And yes, goalkeepers Mayra Tjin A Koeng from Suriname and Anik Jarvis from Antigua and Barbuda played fantastic games. But there were a lot of chances that were rushed, mis-hit, or otherwise not executed on as clinically as they should have been. Against teams like Suriname and Antigua and Barbuda, it’s not a big deal because the chances will be plentiful. But if they’re going to compete against teams like Canada and the other top teams in the confederation to make the World Cup, they’re going to need to tighten those things up.
2.) What will the defense do against stiffer competition?: Of course you can only beat the teams you play, and neither Suriname or Antigua and Barbuda posed much of a challenge for México’s defense. In the two games the defense allowed just one shot, when Antigua and Barbuda’s Jahira James hit a free kick from distance in the 60th minute that missed. But with all due respect to Suriname and A&B, they aren’t offensive juggernauts like some of the teams they’re likely to face in the Concacaf W Tournament (assuming they make it). They’ve done well in recent friendlies against Canada, Colombia, and Argentina, but this is going to be ratcheted up a bit even against Puerto Rico. They’ll need to be ready.
3.) Trust the process: Vergara has presided over a really unprecedented era of growth for México while growing into this role herself. There have been some mis-steps along the way, and there could be more. But the team has so far been able to meet its objectives and has learned from the mis-steps. The goal to make it to the 2023 World Cup is still there, and México is still on track to get there. Beat Puerto Rico, then finish in the top two of whatever group they’d be in in the main tournament to punch their tickets to Australia and New Zealand next year.