The old cliché about a game of two halves fit Mexico’s performance against United States perfectly on Wednesday.
Whether it was caused partially by El Tri’s bus being late or the lack of cohesion from a starting side made up just a handful of players likely to start the World Cup, Mexico didn’t get out the blocks.
Defensively, the team was pulled apart and the United States was one step ahead all over the field.
After the break, the tide turned and Mexico took a stranglehold on the game.
Here are five points to take away:
Jesus Zavala's nightmare
The Monterrey player lost Michael Bradley for the first goal and was unable to stop the American from dictating the game in the first half, as the US midfield dominated Mexico.
After the break, he was replaced by Juan Carlos Medina, who seemed to be a calming influence on proceedings, only highlighting Zavala’s poorness in the first 45.
Marco Fabian further behind than when the game kicked off
Fabian’s first half in what was supposed to be a center forward position was all the evidence coach Miguel Herrera needed to suggest he won’t be playing that position in Brazil. He floated around, dropped deep and Carlos Pena, Isaac Brizuela and Fabian generally stepped on each other’s toes.
|The USA was dominant in the first half, with Michael Bradley and Kyle Beckerman settling in to their spots in the midfield quickly. |
But as poor as the first-half showing was for El Tri, the second-half comeback was equally impressive, with the team finding a way to slow Bradley through the middle of the park and to exploit the space in behind him when he did bomb forward.
For more on the 2-2 draw, check out these articles:
USA 2-2 Mexico: Match report
USA 2-2 Mexico: Player ratings
Ives Galarcep: Green impresses in draw
After the break, Fabian dropped into the attacking midfield position and was very good, finding space and causing problems for the United States.
The only problem for him is that with Pena, Brizuela, Javier Aquino, Hector Herrera and Luis Montes all also fighting for that spot, that path into the team is that little bit more complicated for Fabian.
… And there are questions over Dos Santos
The result of Fabian’s first half failure puts renewed question marks over where Dos Santos could play under Herrera.
The Villarreal forward, like Fabian, prefers to drop deep to receive the ball or drift.
The fact Raul Jimenez and Alan Pulido looked so good together in the second period could be an indication for Herrera that experimenting with Dos Santos may not be worth it.
Europeans add value
If Mexico plays like it did in the first half against United States in the World Cup opener against Cameroon, El Tri’s time in Brazil will not be beyond three games.
The Europe-based players were missed, with Diego Reyes and Hector Moreno getting further boosts to their World Cup spots with El Tri’s shaky defense.
Guillermo Ochoa will also have seen Moises Munoz’s poor first half performance and Alfredo Talavera not being 100 percent convincing and think he is one baby step closer to Brazil.
The other beneficiary could be Hector Herrera, with Carlos Pena having an off day and Isaac Brizuela mediocre at best.
Herrera’s halftime was key
The Mexico manager had a very good halftime. No doubt he had some choice words to say about the team’s performance, but his decisions to introduce Medina and shift Fabian deeper, in particular, were crucial.
Herrera got it spot on and it is the type of tactical awareness and nous that will be needed in Brazil 2014.