Few times before would you have thought Javier Hernandez's absence would be a good thing for Mexico.
That could very well be the case after Chicharito picked up a yellow card in the 57th minute of El Tri's 2-1 loss to Costa Rica in the final game of CONCACAF World Cup qualification.
While Mexico have secured a place in a playoff against New Zealand for a spot at Brazil, they'll have to play the first leg of the two-legged tie in November without Hernandez, per Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl.
Chicharito suspended on yellows for 1st leg vs New Zealand--might be addition by subtraction at this point.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) October 16, 2013
As Wahl says in the second half of that tweet, not having Chicharito could actually be a boost for Mexico. Victor Manuel Vucetich won't be forced to choose a player who's been largely out of form and only gotten into the team based on reputation alone.
There's no getting around it.
Hernandez has been awful throughout the entire fourth round and even going back into the third round of qualifying. The contrast between his form in 2014 WCQ and the rest of his national team career is fairly significant. According to Transfermarkt, he's had five goals. In his 44 other appearances with the national team, his goal total is 31.
Will Mexico be better off against New Zealand without Javier Hernandez?
Part of Hernandez's problems can be chalked up to the tactics of Jose Manuel de la Torre. During the reign of Chepo, Mexico were a team lacking any sort of adventure. They struggled mightily in the attack, and the midfield wasn't a cohesive unit. As a result, Hernandez would get stuck on an island. He's a striker who needs service up top to thrive, and he wasn't getting that.
However, the few chances when he would get the ball, Hernandez would often give it right back to the opposition, or his shots on goal would be yards off target.
He deserves his fair share of the blame as well.
In the grand scheme of things, you have a hard time arguing that he has done enough to continue getting selected. If this is any other player on the team, the manager would have put him on the bench a while ago.
What's even more frustrating, at least in terms of Hernandez's inclusion, has been the form of Oribe Peralta. He's begun to get more of a run out, but often he was getting passed over by de la Torre. Usually when Peralta gets the start, he scores goals, via ESPN Stats and Info.
Oribe Peralta has 9 goals in his 12 starts for Mexico.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 16, 2013
At least Vucetich has been playing the two of them together at the top of the attack in Mexico's last two matches. Not coincidentally, Peralta has scored a goal in each match.
Hernandez is one of Mexico's best players in terms of overall talent, and he's got until next summer to prove his worth to Vucetich. For the time being, though, El Tri shouldn't have any problem replacing him on the team as they prepare for that crunch fixture with New Zealand.