In a World Cup qualifying match that was expected to be a favorable matchup for the Mexican national team, El Tri came to a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica.
This is yet another development in Mexico's disappointing qualification phase, as they've yet to put forth the effort we've come to expect.
To put it simply, the draw is nothing short of a concerning sign for the Mexican national team moving forward.
This was Mexico's fifth game of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying stage and their fourth draw. That places them in a tie for second place, but that's not the entire story. Mexico has already played five games while Costa Rica—the team they're tied with—has played four.
In other words, El Tri is in danger of dropping into third place and remaining just one point ahead of Panama. In accordance to the World Cup qualifying rules, a fourth-place finish would slot Mexico into a playoff elimination game.
Suddenly, missing out on the World Cup is a possibility.
2014 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table via ESPN FC. The top three teams advance and the fourth-place squad enters a final playoff against New Zealand.
Struggling to Score
The past three games have provided Mexico with the opportunity to shine, as they've played Costa Rica, Jamaica and Panama. Unfortunately, Mexico walked away from those three games with a grand total of one goal scored.
The likes of Javier Hernandez and Angel Reyna Martinez have been quiet, struggling to put shots on net and build any form of offense. This is especially troubling considering the United States is putting forth a powerful effort on offense.
A troubling truth considering Team USA is in control of first place in the group.
All Mexico needs to do is finish within the top three to advance, with a fourth-place finish leading to a win-and-you're-in playoff game. With that being said, this is a group that some expected Mexico to control.
Right now, they're looking more like a team without a grasp on how important these games are.
Battle to Qualify
It's too soon to write El Tri off as World Cup participants, as there are more than enough games for Mexico to turn things around. After all, they do only trail the United States by two points, which opens the door for them to break through on Sep. 10 at RFK Stadium.
With that being said, Mexico is far from safe
Until the Mexican national team is able to take control offensively and turn possessions into goals, their ability to qualify with a strong position is in doubt. Costa Rica is playing strong and just earned a draw against Mexico.
Seeing as the Costa Ricans have played one fewer game than Mexico, that puts them in control of their own destiny.
At the end of the day, Mexico is in the position of win or fail, as continuing to earn draws will put them at risk. A qualification is all a team can ask for, but the Mexican national team needs to gain momentum and prove their supremacy against a less significant level of competition.
As it stands, they're playing as poorly as their opponents were expected to.