It’s too bad for us footie fans that Honduras waited until the last 10 minutes of the match to modify its 8-1-1 formation. They might have pulled out a win at the Azteca tonight. After a days of “we’re playing for the win” rhetoric from coaches and players, Honduras looked like a timid third world minnow desperate in their attempt to leave hallowed ground with one golden point. A safe strategy to be sure, but not one worthy of a team as talented as the Bicolor.
You really can’t blame them. Mexico had a lot of momentum going into the match, and their Achilles heel has always been to frustrate them offensively and then pounce on the counter attack. They almost pulled it off, but Mexico didn’t let their frustrations lull them into giving up an easy goal. They created chances, shored up the back, and their offensive efforts were finally paid off when Cuauhtémoc Blanco scored from the spot for the 1-0 win.
The win leaves Mexico in control of their destiny. A win at home to the big-hearted cuzcatlecos will be enough because Honduras, the US and Costa Rica will be taking points away from each other. There is no way all three of them can get more than 18 points.
As for Honduras, they have their first must-win game coming up vs. the US. I have written before about how I feel about Central American teams and must win games: They don’t go so good in them. Don’t believe me? May I present to you Costa Rica as exhibit A. They had one on Saturday and one tonight. Goose eggs in both. And now they are staring down the barrels of playing in the playoff against (holy crap!) Argentina.
It's Honduras' turn next month, and if they don’t get a result against the Yanks, then they’ll be forced to have to win at El Salvador, easily their biggest rival. They did go to war after a qualifier 50 years ago after all. Believe me; El Salvador would relish the chance to send the Catrachos to the playoff.
The analyst in me says it’ll be Costa Rica vs. Argentina and Argentina going through. But the fan in me would love to see Honduras give whoever comes over from CONMEBOL everything they’ve got. Just don’t bunker, Catrachos. You’re much, much better than that.