If the method of victory was bit labored -- it took a stunningly awful effort at a clearance from a Bosnian defender to set Hernandez up as time was running out -- the scoreboard was reflective of the run of play on a sloppy night.
After a rather even first half, El Tri began to assert its technical advantage in the second frame. Here are three thoughts and player ratings from the match in Chicago.
Dos Santos and Barrera are still different players for the national team than at the club level.
There was justifiable worry that after another year of riding the pine at Tottenham and Zaragoza, respectively, Gio Dos Santos and Pablo Barrera wouldn’t be the same players that led El Tri to the Gold Cup last year.
In two matches, those worries will have been resolved resoundingly. Not only have Dos Santos and Barrera been, by far, El Tri’s most dangerous attacking players, but they’ve demonstrated a level that begs the question, once again, of why both don’t see more time in Europe.
Dos Santos, who scored the opening goal Thursday, is incredibly dangerous employed in the free roaming role behind the striker that he assumes for Mexico. Liable to turn up in the middle or out wide on either band, he’s a nightmare for opposing defenses. Barrera is easier to find, gallivanting up and down the right wing, but no easier to stop. Thus far, neither Wales nor Bosnia could cipher any way to contain either, despite the fact that Mexico’s offensive arsenal was not full.
De la Torre has a good idea of his ‘A’ lineup right now.
Chepo showed his cards late in the Bosnia match. Chicharito and Andres Guardado both came on with a half an hour remaining. De la Torre is a competitive type and will have wanted to win the match with the tactical changes, inserting Guardado for a relatively ineffective Edgar Andrade, along with Chicharito up top, for a few minutes tucked in alongside Aldo Di Nigris and then on his own.
Guardado and Barrera on the wings flanking Dos Santos, with Chicharito up top -- a familiar formation that has been a winner for El Tri for some time now. But De La Torre seems to know what he wants to do on the rest of the field as well. Rather than try any number of variations, El Tri went with a very similar lineup to the one trotted out Saturday in New York.
Odds are, then, that this is pretty much what it will look like against Brazil and for the World Cup qualifiers. In the absence of Rafa Marquez, Carlos Salcido and Jesus Zavala will provide cover for the defense. Severo Meza looks to have won the right back spot, with Jorge Torres Nilo on the left. In the middle, the pairing of Maza and Moreno was never up for discussion, though Hugo Ayala didn’t help himself against Bosnia.
The Brazil game will be a great test.
Wales was a walkover. A talented Bosnia in pouring rain provided a stiffer match, but then backed off in the second half. Now comes Brazil. Many of the players on Brazil’s squad are Olympic-bound U-23s, but make no mistake: this is pretty close to Brazil’s first choice side. After beating Denmark and the U.S., Brazil has shown it means business, young or not. A win Sunday would be a truly remarkable accomplishment for El Tri; in fact, with games against El Salvador and Guyana on the docket, Sunday’s match could be treated as the biggest of the summer.
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