Mexico could not qualify for the World Cup through CONCACAF, but they have one more chance with the two-legged playoff against New Zealand. In order for them to be successful, however, a few lesser-known players must step up their efforts.
New coach Miguel Herrera made a bold move with his roster choices, selecting only domestic players while those who play in Europe were left home. This includes many high-profile stars like Javier Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos and others.
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated was one of many who were surprised by the move:
Of course, there is still plenty of talent on the roster that will try to beat the OFC opponent for a spot in the biggest tournament in the world. If they will come out victorious, though, it will likely be thanks to the efforts of these players.
With the usual stars not available, Mexico will need someone to provide the scoring. In reality, goals were tough to come by even when at full strength.
This puts the pressure on Oribe Peralta, who is arguably the top creator on the roster. While playing with Santos Laguna, the forward had 17 goals in 23 starts between Apertura and Clausura. While his club has plenty of talent on the roster, he often showed the ability to make things happen himself.
Additionally, Peralta proved that he can create opportunities for others in Mexico's friendly against Finland. He had two assists in the 4-2 win while adding another goal himself.
If he can display the same type of effort against New Zealand, Mexico should have little problem getting onto the scoresheet.
While Peralta had done a good job of getting good looks at the net, Mexico have had problems at finishing over the past few months. Whenever they got a good shot, they would either miss the net or hit it right to the goalkeeper.
This is where Raul Jimenez usually excels, and he will be needed often against New Zealand.
As the leading scorer on Club America, he already has the trust of his coach. Herrera will likely send his player onto the pitch and hope to see the same type of ability on the national team.
He will then have to make sure that he can end up with a goal virtually any time he gets a touch in or near the box.
Mexico need a veteran presence to get the young squad through this important set of matches. On this roster, there is no one better to do that than Rafa Marquez.
The 34-year-old defender has been a part of El Tri since 1997 and has participated in three World Cups. While his role on the national team had been reduced, he is now needed to help lead the squad back to the promise land.
Unfortunately, his recent play left a lot to be desired. While he did score the opening goal against Finland, he struggled defensively and was mainly responsible for allowing a score.
Marquez will be incredibly important in the locker room, but he also must succeed on the pitch. Otherwise, the opposing squad will take advantage of mistakes and steal a win.
It still remains to be seen whether Moises Munoz will get the start or Jesus Corona, but Munoz is the one who received the recent starts in friendlies. Considering Herrera is comfortable with him as the starting keeper on Club America, it would not be surprising to see the veteran get the call here.
That being said, no one wants to make a mistake in this regard. Corona has more experience at the international level and has made the majority of starts for Mexico in World Cup qualifying.
If Munoz begins the match, he would likely have a short leash. A few poor mistakes would lead to a switch, which would significantly kill the momentum for the squad.
No matter who is in net, it will be important to protect against a variety of Kiwi scorers in order to give Mexico a chance to win.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.