Mexico vs. Honduras: Keys for El Tri in Vital World Cup Qualifier

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2013

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 22:  Javier Hernandez of Mexico celebrates with Giovani dos Santos of Mexico after scoring a goal in the second half against Japan during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group A match between Japan and Mexico at Estadio Mineirao on June 22, 2013 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

There may not be a more crucial game in Concacaf's World Cup qualifying than Friday's match between Mexico and Costa Rica in Mexico City.

Mexico is currently third in the standings with eight points, while Honduras is just a point behind. If either of these teams wants to avoid a playoff game against New Zealand to reach Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, a win here would certainly go a long way. 

So what must Mexico do to ensure they (finally) earn three points at Estadio Azteca?

Let's break it down.

 

It's Time to Get the Offense Going 

Believe it or not, in six hexagonal games, Mexico has managed to score just three goals. That's right, three.

Of course, El Tri has gotten eight points out of those games because they've allowed just two goals during that duration, but it's still an impotent output for a team thought to be the most talented in Concacaf.

Worse, the team has taken just three points at the infamous Estadio Azteca—normally a fortress for El Tri. 

It's a bit baffling, really, especially when you consider that Mexico has the hexagonal's most dangerous player in Javier Hernandez. Add in talented players such as Giovani Dos Santos, Jesus Corona and Andres Guardado, and there is no excuse for this team's paltry output. 

Mexico's offense needs to wake up, and they need to wake up now.

 

Speaking of Azteca...

Remember the days when a game at Azteca meant three points for Mexico, pretty much without question?

It's time for El Tri to reprise those days.

In their beloved stadium, needing to fend off a Honduras team just one point behind them and catch up to a Costa Rica three points their better, Mexico must feed off of the rowdy home crowd and reclaim their Mexico City mojo. 

 

Contain Jerry Bengtson

The forward has always been more effective with Honduras than his club team, the New England Revolution. He has seven goals in his last eight games for Honduras, and if there is one player that can turn this game for the visitors, it's Jerry Bengtson. 

Mexico has been solid defensively at home, and they'll need to smother Bengtson for a full 90 minutes if they don't want another draw at Azteca.

Or worse, a loss.

 

DO...NOT...LOOK...AHEAD...

With a match against rival United States in Columbus just four days after the match against Honduras, you could understand if El Tri looked past Honduras. 

It would be a pretty huge mistake if they did. 

Mexico has already proven in the hex that they aren't impenetrable at home, and Honduras has already proven they can hang with El Tri, drawing 2-2 the last time these teams met in March.

If Mexico isn't focused on the here and now, they could be focused on their fourth- or fifth-place standing on the table after this match.

 

Follow TRappaRT on Twitter