Four years ago, Mexico's U23 team looked like just about every other Mexico team - dominating in possession from box to box. Unfortunately, playing keep away, although an effective tactic, doesn't always translate into goals. It has historically been Mexico's problem, and the '08 Olympic qualifying campaign was no different. Mexico's strikers missed a season's worth of opportunities against Canada, Guatemala, and Haiti, leading to a humiliating first round exit.
Last Friday night, the men in black seemed to be following the same script. After 30 minutes, they had set up camp in the Socca Warriors side of the field, but had yet to find the nets. It happened on the ninth corner kick of the night. Alan Pulido took advantage of some charity from the opposing goal keeper to score. It wasn't his prettiest effort, but it counted just the same.
Pulido's goal took the pressure off, and it was only a matter of time before Mexico established a beachhead in front of T&T's goal. Marco Fabian added a hat trick, while three others found the back of the nets in a 7-1 romp. The shell-shocked warriors were left with nothing but a relentless series of increasingly violent tackles, which, of course, was allowed by the Jamaican ref. Three of Mexico's players abandoned the field of play due to injury.
It was a good way to start the tournament. However, victories over Caribbean minnows are by no means a barometer by which to measure the quality of team A... unless team A, only won by a goal or two.
Then we can determine that team A really sucks.
The real test in this group stage for Mexico would come in their next match against Honduras. And for the first few minutes, Honduras looked like they would be the ones that were going to pitch their tents on Mexico's side of the field. Mexico held their ground, and a Catracho defender got sloppy.
The carelessness resulted in a break-away for Mexico, which was punctuated by Pulido. It was 1-0 after 10 minutes. He got his second with a sensational 25 yard blast into the top corner before halftime, and completed his hat-trick finishing off a quick counter just seconds into the 2nd half. He is tied with Joe Corona as the top scorer in the tournament.
The 3-0 win assured Mexico a spot in the semi finals, and gave credence to the rumors that the 21 year-old Tigres striker was being closely watched by some of the more prominent European clubs.
It was not the first time Pulido has shown well in international tournaments either. He played very well in the U20 qualifiers as well as the Toulon tournament. And the U20 World Cup, he helped Mexico earn a 3rd place medal.
Pulido He may get a chance to show his stuff in London this summer, provided Mexico can get by Canada this weekend.