Mexico took its time in Houston, Texas but eventually blew out Guyana, cruising home to a 5-0 win with all its goals coming in the final 15 minutes.
It was a painful spectacle at times but one dominated by El Tri, on its way to a perfect 15 points from 15 in the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Some will nitpick, others will look at the score line and celebrate, but the bottom line is that Friday night answered a few questions and left fewer doubts as El Tri marches on towards next year’s Hexagonal.
Here are three points from Friday night’s match:
Jose Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torre respected the opponent too much with his lineup. Aside from conservative, De la Torre’s lineup was not particularly forward looking.
This was pretty much a first-choice group chosen from the players in camp, and pretty similar to a lineup you might see in any other match that mattered. With key midfielders out, though, the middle was the key difference.
Why the coach still thinks that Zinha and Gerardo Torrado need reps in those spots is hard to figure out, given the sterling play of Jorge Enriquez and Hector Herrera every time they’ve gotten the chance at any level.
Torrado played decently going forward in his 40 minute shift, but De la Torre was likely not pleased with his effort or bite going the other way as the game opened up in both directions. Zinha did little in his 78 minutes of work and even seemed to be stopping up the offensive flow in the middle of the park.
You get the feeling De la Torre wants the youngsters to earn their spots -- which is fine -- but these are also great chances to acclimate the younger players to the speed of the international game, something Torrado and Zinha just don’t need. It’s also an affront to the ticket-buying audience in the U.S. that wanted to see El Tri’s Olympic stars.
Luckily Enriquez got an early chance, coming in for Torrado late in the first half. The future, as soon as next year, belongs to Enriquez and Herrera. The sooner De la Torre gets that, the better for El Tri.
Chicharito’s night was another clunker, but he still made the plays eventually. Even Javier Hernandez fans might be starting to get worried about Chicharito’s form after tonight’s display. In the last 10 minutes, he set up a goal and forced an own goal, but the finishing until then was scarily bad.
Hernandez’s game is built around finishing whenever he gets the chances, and if he loses that edge, El Tri loses a huge weapon. He did make the plays eventually against Guyana, as did the whole team, but in bigger games Hernandez won’t get that many chances. The playing time situation at Manchester is getting serious, and for El Tri’s sake Hernandez probably needs to straighten it out in January.
Mexico is the class of CONCACAF, now more than ever. With U.S. struggling in Antigua and Barbuda, and Costa Rica and Honduras playing for dear life in El Salvador, who cares if El Tri waited 80 minutes to blow out Guyana? Mexico played attractively without a number of stars, created chances, and looked stylish. It could have easily been 10-0.
Plus, El Tri is already through to the Hex.
We all know Mexico has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last few years. What’s looking clearer is that the other regional powers have regressed, while other teams around the area -- Panama and Jamaica for example -- have improved.
It will make for an interesting Hexagonal next year at any rate, but one that El Tri will be expected to win easily.
Follow BRENT LATHAM on