6 Things Mexico Learned from Friendly with USA
After a shaky start against the United States, Mexico managed to draw the game. It was the first time in 16 years that El Tri came back to draw or win after trailing by two after the first half.
The game was intense and key for both managers, who needed this kind of clash to take a look at some players who hadn't had continuity or were not even capped before.
For Mexico it was also a matter of pride, especially after a dreadful first half that finished with the mythical 2-0.
Let's see what we learned from this game.
Alan Pulido Deserves the Starting Position
Alan Pulido keeps taking advantage of his time on the pitch. The Tigres striker sealed Mexico’s draw thanks to his mobility inside the box.
Pulido knows where he has to be and how he has to shoot. He takes care of his responsibilities as a striker in style.
There is no doubt that Oribe Peralta has secured his place on the team but he needs someone who can accompany him.
Sure, Javier Hernandez has the experience and his recent goal with Manchester United puts him in the fight for the starting position, but Pulido is playing regularly and scoring constantly.
Alfredo Talavera Should Make the WC Team
Croatia's aerial game is one of their most valuable assets and right now Alfredo Talavera is the best Mexican goalkeeper in that area.
Right now he is the goalie with the most clean sheets in the Liga MX and works inside his box brilliantly.
Talavera showed that he is not only good with dives but he also knows how to play with his feet and cut the angle in tough moments.
There should not be any doubt that he has to be on Mexico's World Cup team.
Marco Fabian Works Better in the Midfield
Marco Fabian offered little when he played along Alan Pulido. Things got interesting when Herrera decided to put him in the midfield.
Fabian has had better performances when he plays on the left flank. He enhances his dribbling skills and strength and puts the rivals' defense in distress.
This game didn't win him the starting position but it certainly put him on Herrera's radar and he will probably receive more caps.
He has at least a couple of games to show how valuable he can be and what he can bring to the team—depth and creativity—and those are the two main reasons why the coach shouldn't leave him behind.
Mexico Must Work on Their Mentality
Mexico was already losing the game before it had even started. El Tri came to the pitch with a lot of pressure and it showed.
They had lost their last clash against the United States, back in October 2013, and they had not won a friendly on American soil since 1984. Their mentality was shattered.
Two brilliant goals in the first half, one by Michael Bradley and another by Chris Wondolowski in less than half an hour, put even more pressure on Miguel Herrera's side.
The dreadful "Dos a Cero" was here again and by the way the United States were playing it seemed like they could trash their archrival.
But Mexico changed and four minutes into the second half Rafael Marquez scored. That was enough to propel El Tri.
Fine, every team needs a boost of some sort, but Mexico rely heavily on this kind of move to overcome their mentality issues.
Miguel Herrera's 5-3-2 System Is Shaky
Michael Bradley tore El Tri apart with ease. The former Roma midfielder proved how physically fit he is and also how technical and vertical he can be.
Almost every ball passed through his boots and Jesus Zavala couldn't do a thing to stop him. But Zavala shouldn't be the only one to blame for this.
Herrera's 5-3-2 system, once brilliant and functional for Ajax, has proven to be a double-edged sword because the central midfielder needs to cover a lot of ground.
Mexico suffered just the same against Nigeria and it seemed like the responsible one was Juan Carlos Medina. But now it is clear that these teams—strong and fast—can break the system down in the blink of an eye.
Rafael Marquez Proved His Value
Rafael Marquez's experience keeps taking the leading role of the team. The Leon centre-back opened the score for Mexico and showed his teammates the way.
Taking his captain's armband seriously, Marquez shined in his natural position but he was also a key player in the attacking zone.
His goal ended El Tri's 391-minute scoreless streak against the United States. It also took all the pressure off and allowed Mexico to perform more freely.
Marquez led by example but he needs to have all of his teammates on board from the kickoff to make a real difference.