A friendly loss to Boznia-Herzegovina left plenty of questions for El Tri, and Tom Marshall runs through his winners and losers on the night.
CHICAGO -- There were plenty of question marks coming out of Mexico’s 1-0 loss in Chicago to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday, with El Tri’s players not on the field staking the biggest claim for World Cup starting spots.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera received his first defeat in his ninth game in charge and the match was marked – at least on the Mexican side – by a shift in formation from around the 15th minute, with a flat back four employed in place of the usual 5-3-2.
At this stage of World Cup preparation, such shifts in tactics stand out, especially when it goes wrong, but such is the nature of Mexico’s rushed pre-World Cup planning off the back of an awful 2013.
The biggest loser on Tuesday was Alfredo Talavera, who struggled to show any real presence in goal and looked nervous when called upon. That sense of insecurity radiated to the defense when Izet Hajrovic finished a slick move from Bosnia four minutes from halftime.
Talavera’s lackluster passing and apprehensiveness at coming out for the ball was at odds with his fine form for Toluca in the past Liga MX season and almost guarantees he’ll be Mexico’s number three when the World Cup rolls around in just eight days.
Herrera must now decide whether it’ll be Guillermo Ochoa or Jesus Corona on Friday against Portugal in the final tune-up game, when the Mexico coach will begin the match with as many of the starters for Cameroon on June 13 as injuries permit.
In defense, Carlos Salcido was again a positive, but with Rafa Marquez fit, the three center backs still look like being Diego Reyes, Marquez and Hector Moreno, while Miguel Ponce did little to further the argument that he is a better bet than both Miguel Layun and Andres Guardado at left wing back.
Jose Juan Vazquez showed signs that he isn’t ready for international football. There were too many mistakes in his passing and a sense that the Bosnian midfield was getting the better of him.
A real dilemma Herrera has to solve is how to use Hector Herrera, who was Mexico’s best player by a distance on Tuesday. The option of playing him in the defensive midfield role became more enticing after seeing Vazquez, but the Porto midfielder adds so much further up the field as a creator.
There must also be worries for Herrera about Carlos Pena. The Leon midfielder isn’t playing really poorly, but seems to be a shadow of the player he was six months ago when la Fiera romped to the Apertura 2013 title.
Upfront for Mexico, neither Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez or Raul Jimenez stepped up and demanded a place in the starting XI.
Hernandez is working hard and tracked to make a couple of important tackles, but needs goals to raise his confidence levels, while Jimenez had a poor game all round, losing the ball too much and failing to get involved and have an impact on the game. At the other end of the pitch, Edin Dzeko gave a reality check as to the level Jimenez has to reach to get to the top of the European game in the future.
But the positives for Mexico come from the fact the in-form players in key positions – bar Herrera – were only involved from off the bench. Those include one of Corona or Ochoa, Marco Fabian, Rafa Marquez, Paul Aguilar and Giovani Dos Santos, all of whom can expect to be involved against Portugal on Friday.