In a stunning turn of events, Honduras made a second-half comeback to defeat Mexico 2-1 at Azteca Stadium on Friday. The loss continues a tumultuous international season for Mexico, signaling but one thing:
El Tri should be in panic mode after losing to Honduras.
Mexico scored just six minutes into the game against Honduras, as Oribe Peralta found the back of the net off of an assist from Giovani Dos Santos. Mexico held Honduras scoreless for the first 63 minutes of the match.
In the blink of an eye, Jerry Bengtson scored in the 64th minute and Carlo Costly in the 66th to give Honduras a lead that remained intact—a new twist on Mexico's struggles.
Mexico has won just once in seven total World Cup Qualifying matches. Its defense has been strong, but El Tri have struggled to score have picked up five draws and a loss.
Mexico has fallen into dangerous territory.
Will They Make It?
According to CONCACAF.com, Mexico is currently fourth in the 2014 FIFA CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying rankings. Mexico has eight points and is two behind Honduras for third place, five behind the United States and trail first-place Costa Rica by six.
Regardless of how you cut it, Mexico has to be asking one question—will it make it to the 2014 FIFA World Cup?
That question seems outrageous and nonsensical, but Mexico has been downright atrocious offensively. They've scored just four goals in their seven matches, which ranks second-to-last, with Jamaica managing just two.
That's exactly why Mexico has registered just one win.
The top three teams in this group stage earn automatic bids to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The No. 4 team, however, must play New Zealand in a match that will determine the other squad to advance.
Mexico may be favored to defeat New Zealand on paper, but it is also supposed to be better than it is right now.
With all of these factors, it becomes fair to question whether or not Mexico will qualify. Mexico has the talent, with players such as Javier Hernandez leading the charge, but nothing has been able to come together offensively.
Worst of all, there have been no signs of progression.
No Signs of Improvement
Since losing to Brazil at the 2013 Confederations Cup on June 22, Mexico owns victories over Canada, Ivory Coast, Japan, Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago. With this in mind, it's fair to assume that El Tri has made improvements.
Unfortunately, they haven't—not in World Cup qualifiers, at least.
In World Cup Qualifying play, since defeating Jamaica on June 4, Mexico had two scoreless draws followed by Friday’s loss. Even after scoring early in Friday’s match , Mexico's offense ran dry and its progression was halted.
That may be its ultimate undoing.
Until Mexico can find a rhythm offensively, it will continue to lose games and settle for scoreless draws. With a tough road ahead, that points towards Mexico dropping further down the standings.
On Sept. 10, Mexico will travel to Columbus, Ohio to face Team USA in what should be a hostile environment. On Oct. 11, Mexico will face a Panama squad that is currently just one point behind in the standings.
Ending things with an Oct. 15 battle against Costa Rica, the first-place team in the standings, Mexico needs a win.
Panama may not be the most revered football country, but it reached the finals at the 2013 Gold Cup and earned a draw against Jamaica to pick up a point in the World Cup Qualifying. After facing Honduras on Sept. 10, Panama proceeds to face Mexico and Team USA.
Unless Mexico improves or Panama collapses, El Tri could be on the outside looking in come the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Fortunately for Mexico, it controls its own fate.