It was all smiles and sunshine when Mexican President, Felipe Calderón, visited Mexico's training center
Concacaf has become more of a home team region, which makes points on the road now worth their weight in platinum. Not one team has yet to win on the road in the Hex. Mexico hasn’t even won on the road in CONCACAF since they beat Guatemala back in 2005. They only have one point to show for their last 7 road presentations. Now Mexico is off to El Salvador to play at the Cuscatlán on Saturday. There is no doubt that San Salvador is a very difficult place to play, but 3 points would put Mexico back on song on their world cup campaign. Couple it with a win over the flinty T&Ters, and Mexico would be in fine shape for the second half of the Hex.
Can Mexico win at the Cuscatlán? Sure they can. And if they do, it would effectively put the kibosh on El Salvador ’s dreams for a third world cup. Javier Aguirre has the Mexican media and the triblogosphere all riled up with the lineups he’s been using during media attended practices, particularly the one he unveiled to Mexico ’s President, Felipe Calderón, yesterday. The player who seems to be causing the most uproar is goalkeeper Oscar “El Conejo” Pérez. At 36, it’s probably true that his best days may be behind him. One argument is that he is out of rhythm for not having played the past few months. But then again neither have Memo Ochoa or Jesús Corona, whose seasons ended a month ago. It could be that Aguirre sees all three of his keepers as equals in ability, but the intangible qualities, leadership, box management to name a couple, may be what have Conejo as the leader in the clubhouse to start Saturday night.
Another hotspot that media have enjoyed exploiting this week is the speculation of the starting line up. In his welcome back news conference, Vasco said he wanted players who were playing well, and in rhythm. He stated he preferred not to bring in players who were injured or without much playing time. So imagine the outrage that was generated when the afore-mentioned line-up included the afore-mentioned Pérez, Guille Franco (very limited time at Villarreal), Nery (wasn’t even considered for the bench for much of the games for Shahktar), Maza Rodriguez (saw limited action with PSV), Ricardo Osorio (who is has been recovering from surgery) and everyone’s favorite lightning rod from Tepito, Cuahtémoc Blanco.
I didn’t mind the initial call up but was a little taken aback by the initial call up because the majority of defenders on the list were either injured or had not seen the field all that much. The forwards he called up may not have seen that much action, but they were still the best available. And then I realized that Aguirre wants his best and brightest, regardless of what he had said at his presser. I am sure that what he said originally was what he would want to do in perfect world, but Mexico ’s world is far from perfect. Steps have to be taken.
While the Mexican press skewers Aguirre for Wednesday line-ups, and energetically points out the contradictions in Aguirre’s statements, the players have been spotted with something that hasn’t been seen in quite a while: smiles, camaraderie, and a renewed sense of purpose. So whoever takes the field Saturday night in San Salvador, their goal is simple, get the win, get the world cup campaign back on track.