Mexico had it in the bag until Honduras came back to spoil their victory.
Now, Mexico might be on the brink of failing to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. After two contests, El Tri has earned just two points, putting them in a less-than-desirable position on the CONCACAF table.
It is going to take more than draws to advance on this stage, against this level of competition. Failure to qualify isn’t acceptable for the proud country, either, and it would be the first time they failed to do so since 1990.
Their matchup against Honduras may not have been a must-win in San Pedro Sula, but it was pretty close—it had the potential to offer a needed boost to the confidence of the club.
The win seemed to be a formality after two Javier Hernandez goals gave the side a 2-0 advantage. Hernandez’s two scores, by the way, set a milestone for the Mexican international, according to ESPN (via Twitter):
Javier Hernández (Chicharito) scored his 29th international goal vs. Honduras. He's now tied for 7th on Mexico's all-time scoring list.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 22, 2013
While it was another impressive performance for Chicharito, it was another defensive meltdown for El Tri.
Honduras scored two goals in a three-minute span, including a penalty kick and rebound equalizer by Jerry Bengtson in the 80th minute.
Bengtson had two chances earlier in the contest but failed to convert. He made it when it counted, though, after earning the penalty kick.
This draw is a setback for Mexico as they attempt to crack the top four of the fourth round of the CONCACAF qualifying group.
Even with a fourth seed, they would need to win a playoff against New Zealand.
What can be worse than this start for the Mexican squad? Failing to win three points against the United States at Estadio Azteca on March 26 would be an unthinkable result after their two-point start. If you think this draw was a blow to their psyche and chances to qualify, a loss or draw to the USA on Mexican soil would trigger an avalanche of negativity around the club.
In the end, it is a long process that surely leaves plenty of room for El Tri to get back on the right foot. That much is true, but there is no making up for damaged confidence. Playing scared or with too much urgency can force errors.
But maybe that is what this club needs, as their late-game collapse against Honduras shows they might not yet be playing with enough (urgency).