So Much for the Group of Death

If you had told me two months ago that Mexico would be sitting atop Group B with 9 points, with Honduras not far behind and both way ahead of Canada and Jamaica, I would have had to check if you were receiving the proper dosage of your daily pill-popping regimen.

This was the group of death, after all. Honduras with its always dangerous group of front line players, and Canada's "best midfield in CONCACAF" were posing serious challenges to Mexico. Could the unthinkable happen? Could the Hex be missing one of the regions 800 lb gorilla? For 70 minutes at the Azteca a few weeks ago, it looked like Mexico was doomed to a seriously uphill challenge, an Alpe de Huez-like qualification. But Pavel Pardo's brace, and Jamaica's gol olimpico changed everything. Mexico survived a stern challenge from the catrachos, while Canada dropped 2 points at home to the Raggaeboyz. Sprinkle in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, and a 2nd half collapse, and after 2 games. It was Mexico 6, Honduras 3, and Canada, who like Mexico had the advantage of playing the first games at home, could only muster 1.

Canada looked anything like a desperate team in search of a result in the Chiapas jungle last night. I was stunned to see them hang back, and wait for Mexico to get frustrated. Maybe, just maybe, they could hang on to the scoreless draw. No chance. Mexico does enough to put 2 goals past Lars Hirschfeld and leaves Canada on the edge of oblivion.

Am I the only non Canadian who thought Canada would be better than this? I always maintained that whoever survived this group of death would join the US as automatic qualifiers for SA2010, I just thought Canada would have a bigger part to play.

Canada is still alive, but they will have to do on the road, what they could not do at home: win. As for Mexico, they haven't played their best, but they have done something that I thought I would never see: they have become more patient. Other versions of Mexico would have frustrated themselves to defeat in a game like that. SGE may not be the greatest coach, but he is certainly infused his style into the Mexican side.

Last, and certainly not least, we say goodbye to Cuauhtémoc Blanco from the international stage. My best memory of Cuauhtémoc Blanco is when he single-handedly saved Mexico from 2002 elimination with a late second half brace in Kingston. This came being out of action for nearly a year and a half. He might be abrasive, a diver, a whiner, and a pest. But he is also a true artist and a genius, and he joins Hugo Sanchez and Pirata Fuente in the holy trinity of Mexican futbol.

Gracias, temo