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Hexagonal: Mexico's Tri temporarily brought down to earth
by Paul Kennedy, February 1st, 2013 5:54PM

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TAGS:  men's national team, mexico, world cup 2014

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Following its gold medal in men's soccer at the 2012 London Olympics, Mexico is being trumpeted as a favorite to win the 2014 World Cup, but that's getting ahead of the game.

Since 1994, El Tri has qualified for the every World Cup and advanced to the knockout phase only to lose in the round of 16 every time.

Then there is the matter of getting through the Hexagonal. Yes, Mexico will be heavy favorite to win the Concacaf final-round qualifying group.

And yes, it was the only team to sweep its six games in the semifinal group. But it didn't exactly overrun the opposition -- the only victory by more than two goals came at Guyana when it scored all five goals in the last 12 minutes.

If Chepo de la Torre's muchachos needed to be brought down to earth, Wednesday's friendly against Denmark certainly would do it. They could only manage a 1-1 tie against a team missing all its foreign-based stars and they were jeered off the field by the 43,000-plus crowd at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

WHY THE USA SHOULD BE CONFIDENT. The USA beat Mexico each time it has hosted the Tri in the last three Hexagonals. Each game was played in Columbus, Ohio, and each game ended 2-0. Mexico will be heavily favored when it hosts the USA March 26 at Azteca Stadium, but it has lost its air of invincibility. The USA's 1-0 win over Mexico in August 2012 was its first victory over El Tri on Mexican soil in 25 meetings.

WHY THE USA SHOULD BE WORRIED. The last time the two teams faced off when something was on the line, Mexico won handily. The Tri came back from 2-0 down to win the 2011 Gold Cup final going away, 4-2. And Mexico has since upgraded its team, winning the gold medal in men's soccer at the 2012 London Olympics and incorporating many of its under-23 players into the full national team.

WHO YOU ALREADY KNOW. In just two-plus seasons at Manchester United, Javier Hernandez has already scored 46 goals in all competitions and is at 24 already the best-known Mexican player internationally since Hugo Sanchez of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid fame. This will be Chicharito's first Hexagonal. Players back from the 2009 Concacaf finals include Carlos Salcido, Giovani dos Santos and Andres Guardado.

WHO YOU'LL KNOW SOON. The excitement surrounding Mexico's national team centers on its young midfielders fast-tracked from the 2012 Olympic team: Javier Aquino, Hector Herrera and Marco Fabian. Aquino moved from Cruz Azul to Villarreal in Spain at the end of the January transfer window, while Herrera, who goes by the nickname “El Zorrillo” (The Skunk), and the popular Fabian will remain at Pachuca and Chivas, respectively, through Mexico's Torneo Clausura before probably moving to Europe.

SCHEDULE.
Day 1: Feb. 6 vs. Jamaica (TV: UniMas, ESPN2, 9:30 p.m. ET).
U.S. Series:
Day 3 -- March 26: Mexico vs. USA in Mexico City; Day 8 -- Sept. 10: USA vs. Mexico at site TBD.

ROSTER (Jamaica game):

Goalkeepers: Jose de Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Cirilo Saucedo (Tijuana), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca).
Defenders: Francisco Rodriguez (Club America), Hector Moreno (Espanyol, Spain), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres), Darvin Chavez (Monterrey), Diego Reyes (Club America), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Severo Meza (Monterrey), Paul Aguilar (Club America).
Midfielders: Javier Aquino (Villarreal, Spain), Carlos Salcido (Tigres), Angel Reyna (Pachuca), Hector Herrera (Pachuca), Jesus Molina (Club America), Marco Fabian (Guadalajara), Andres Guardado (Valencia, Spain), Fernando Arce (Tijuana).
Forwards: Giovani dos Santos (Mallorca, Spain), Javier Hernandez (Man. United, England), Aldo de Nigris (Monterrey), Oribe Peralta (Santos).

Tomorrow: Jamaica.
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7 comments
  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: February 1, 2013 at 7:32 p.m.
    Why is it when the Usmny has 2-4 starters play its the "B" team but Mexico had its "A" team with only 2-3 regular starters? Is it because Mexico unlike USA has so much depth that it appears like its always its A team? Or is it because the U23s that won the gold are now considered the 2nd "A" team? If Mr. Kennedy really wants to make comparisons he should note that the Danish team killed Canada 4-0 just a few days earlier.. the same Canada that USA tied. All 4 teams are closer to B teams than A.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: February 1, 2013 at 8:34 p.m.
    I actually didn't see any U.S. top eleven out there Tuesday, and I will have to take your word on how many mexico started, but either way I get your point. The U.S. should probably have been jeered off the field as well!

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: February 1, 2013 at 11:41 p.m.
    None of the Mexico players on that team have played in Europe. Only 2 have been regular starters. Salcido & Masa Rodriguez. 4 of them earned recent call upsbby winning Olympics. DeNigris never starts when Chicharito is there. Fabian and Peralta are usually subs as well. Aquino has gotten CA ups recently only as well. Mexico is a favorite to win World Cup 2014? Who said this? I think I would have heard that. I think they can make top 8 or top 4 with a good draw. But win it all? I don't believe anyone has stated this. I think what has been said is that Mexico has a bright future for World Cups to come with the pool of players coming up after consecutive success for U23's, U20's & U17. They certainly do have a bright long future.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: February 1, 2013 at 11:58 p.m.
    Mr. Kennedy failed to mention that Mexico's group was far tougher than Usa's. Costa Rica, who just won Carribean cup over Honduras & Panama, and El Salvador were in Mexico's group. USA had Jamaica & Guatemala and barely made it out. No comparison. Honduras killed Canada in a do or die game for both. I say USA has too littlelor to be confident about. I predict Mexico will beat USA twice in this Hexagonal. If USA is lucky they will tie at home. Concacaf teams overall have improved except for USA because our pool is weak and we still don't have a defined style of play. Aztecas win was a fluke and if that's all USA has to feel confident then we are in for a rude awakening. Mexico played and beat 2 of the better Concacaf teams in its group stage. I think they have a slightly bigger reason to feel confident.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: February 3, 2013 at 8:10 a.m.
    El Salvador took 3rd place in that tourney. Jamaica and Guatemala didn't make top 5. Didn't USA struggle heavily vs these 2 teams? Soccer America is be coming senile.

  1. Luis Vazquez
    commented on: February 5, 2013 at 9:23 a.m.
    This is by far one of the worst articles I have ever read. I would really like to know who in Mexico is saying that they are favorites to win the World Cup? Sources? Also, the author "forgot" to mention that Mexico also played without some key players against Denmark. This article is totally biased and without fundaments.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: February 5, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.
    Without Chicharito, Guardado, Moreno, Barrrera, Dos Santos, Ochoa, Vela, a couple defenders. Not quite the A team stated in this article.


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