Mexico’s Wednesday friendly against Denmark may look like a rather meaningless fixture, given that players in Europe won’t be a part of the match.
But there are several reasons to keep a close eye on the proceedings in Phoenix, and not just because this is a decent Danish B-team that could upset El Tri’s plans to start 2013 off with a bang.
There are many motives for which El Tri could use an emphatic victory when it takes the field for the first time this year, in Phoenix on Wednesday night.
Friendlies mean nothing, except when they do. This one isn’t particularly important except that it starts the year off after a long winter break. El Tri will be anxious to impose its will on Denmark to show it retains the winning attitude of recent years headed into a year that could define Mexico’s chances of becoming a world superpower sooner rather than later.
With or without their full team, super powers dominate meaningless friendlies against second rate B-teams. It’s the business-like attitude the best teams bring to every match, spurned on by the ultra-competitive individual search for a spot on the team.
It’s fair to say that Jose Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torre has brought that attitude to Mexico. Wednesday night should be the proof that this year won’t be a letdown.
Dynamics of 2013
This calendar year is among the busiest and most important in the history of the Mexican national team. It starts off a bit quietly, with this tuneup and a relative walkover against Jamaica at home – in theory the easiest match of the entire Hexagonal for Mexico.
But the action ramps up quickly, as Mexico visits Honduras and hosts the United States in March, before a busy summer of action that includes three qualifiers and two international cups before July is out.
That begs for a quick start, as the last thing El Tri needs is an early-year crisis to derail its big plans for 2013.
Confidence for young players
A number of younger players set to play a big role in El Tri’s potential triumphs this year are in Phoenix and likely to see the field against Denmark.
The likes of Diego Reyes, Hiram Mier, Jorge Enriquez and Hector Herrera are sure to play an increasingly important role for El Tri as the year winds on. After qualifiers necessitated veteran lineups for much of last year, leaving the Olympic champions mostly on the El Tri bench, this friendly is their first chance to come into the team as legitimate options, fighting for time.
What the young players need for their confidence beyond playing time is to dominate in the El Tri jersey. Denmark provides the chance to do that.
Point of comparison with Europe
The Danish team is comprised of players who have done very well in what is considered an excellent European stepping-stone league. While Mexicans are starting to garner more and more interest in Europe, they’re still not playing across the Atlantic at nearly the rate they should be.
An impressive performance for Mexico-based players against their counterparts from a middle-of-the-pack European league will further enforce the point of the Liga MX’s quality and depth. Even if Danish teams in particular can’t afford top level Mexicans, crushing the Dane backups will reinforce the notion to clubs scouting the Danes that Mexico continues to be a compelling value, even at these prices.
Big game versus Jamaica
The qualifier versus Jamaica at El Azteca is more important than it looks. The pressure on those second and third Hexagonal games versus the United States and Honduras will mount quickly if El Tri fails to get a resounding result against the Caribbean nation at home.
In turn, a decent performance against Denmark leaves El Tri playing with the confidence it needs against Jamaica. Wednesday’s game might not count for anything, but a good showing makes it all the easier for El Tri to get the result that by all means it can and should in the upcoming game that matters on Feb. 6.
Follow BRENT LATHAM on Twitter
- Sports & Recreation