Mexico vs. Ecuador: 6 Things We Learned
Mexico manager Miguel Herrera will be delighted with what he saw on Saturday.
El Tri were far and away the superior side against Ecuador in Arlington, Texas, and cruised to a comfortable 3-1 win thanks to goals from Luis Montes, Marco Fabian and Giovani dos Santos.
Conversely, Herrera's Ecuadorian counterpart, Reinaldo Rueda, will no doubt be looking for a considerably more competitive display against England on June 4.
Following are six things we learned from the match.
Jaime Ayovi Just Isn’t Up to It
Rueda raised eyebrows when he named Jaime Ayovi to his starting XI ahead of Enner Valencia.
The 26-year-old Tijuana forward looked well off the pace until his exit on the hour mark, and over the course of his afternoon, he didn't muster a single attempt at goal. He won’t get anywhere near the first-team squad at the World Cup.
Valencia, meanwhile, immediately infused El Tri with some much-needed zip in the attack, and he scored his side’s only goal with 10 minutes remaining.
Ecuador’s Defense Is a Major Weak Spot
Jorge Guagua was abysmal in defense for Ecuador on Saturday, and his shortcomings were only made clearer when Gabriel Achilier replaced Frickson Erazo at the 65-minute mark.
Guagua began his afternoon with a terrible free kick from just outside Mexico’s 18-yard box, and he capped it by inadvertently directing Miguel Layun’s cross to Giovani dos Santos for El Tri’s third of the match.
The only bright spot for Rueda, as far as his defense is concerned, will have been the play of right-back Juan Carlos Paredes.
Fabian Can Hit Them
So much of Mexico’s fate (not only at the upcoming World Cup but in future tournaments) rests on its under-25 set—much of which helped El Tri to gold-medal glory at the 2012 Olympic Games.
On Saturday, Marco Fabian rose to the occasion.
Cutting inside Guagua, the 24-year-old hit an unstoppable drive on a partial bounce and watched as his shot arrowed into the back of the net for the eventual game-winner.
Friendlies Can Be Costly
Neither side came away from Saturday’s friendly encounter unscathed.
Luis Montes, who opened the scoring for Mexico, was carried off on a stretcher late in the first half after suffering a broken leg, per Goal.com. He has now been ruled out for the World Cup.
Then, El Tri skipper Rafael Marquez made a trip to the hospital after suffering a right foot injury, according to the Mexican federation (via Major League Soccer's official website). He posted a photo of the injured foot on his Instagram account following the game and said he avoided a fractured toe.
Finally, Ecuador’s Segundo Castillo—who collided with Montes—appears to have sustained a serious knee injury. Ecuadorian outlets are reporting that he suffered torn ligaments in his right knee, per MLSsoccer.com staff, and also will not be participating in the World Cup.
Ecuador Are Outsiders in Group E
Ecuador will open their World Cup campaign against a very stingy Switzerland side, with both Honduras and France awaiting.
If Saturday’s friendly was any indication, Ecuador's schedule will reach its conclusion at that point.
Given how much they concede possession—never mind their mistakes in defense—it’s almost unfathomable that La Tri could somehow get out of the group ahead of their European competitors.
Mexico Have Given Themselves Something to Build on
Mexico will contest a pair of friendlies next week, against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Chicago and Portugal in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
It may even be one friendly too many.
Herrera will have been delighted with his side’s display against Ecuador and likely needs just one more match to settle on his starting XI for the World Cup.
El Tri, after a tempestuous 12 months, have finally found some momentum. If they can successfully build off their 3-1 win at AT&T Stadium and overcome Montes' injury, look out.