A dozen years ago, Mexico went to the Office in Kingston with their world cup hopes hanging in the balance. In 2013, the circumstances were a little different, but the objective was the same: Mexico had to leave the Office with three points. Back in 2001, Mexico was able to salvage their World Cup hopes thanks to a certain man who answers to "Temo." It is still a little too early to tell if Tuesday's 1-0 win in Jamaica will have the same effect on Mexico's World Cup campaign, but it was certainly a step in the right direction.
A 48th minute goal by Aldo de Nigris, followed by a series of big saves by Jesús Corona gave Mexico only their 4th road win in the hex since Blanco's brace back saved Mexico in 2001. It was Mexico's 1st win in the hex and 1st win in 2013.
And it could not have come at a better time.
Historically, Mexico is a team that has been known not to handle pressure well, especially against teams in its own region, and the pressure was more than palpable after 2 scoreless draws at the Azteca and a blown 2-goal lead in Honduras. The pressure is has been reduced for now, and Mexico can head to Panama a little more relaxed. A positive result on the isthmus would relax things even more, and make Mexico's Confederation Cup experience much more pleasant.
I don't know about y'all, but has qualifying in CONCACAF gotten just a little more uncomfortable? Don't get me wrong, I would love it if Mexico would qualify for the World Cup by hanging the soccer equivalent of a "half a hundred" on teams, like they did back in the 90's. The three Gs (ganar, gustar, y golear) were on display back then with regularity. Not anymore; the 90's are long gone. The threegees are no longer the main objective, the 3 points are.
Which is why it is so puzzling that so many talking heads, scribes, tweeters, posters, screamers, tweekers, boozehounds, stoners, and Methodists were disappointed in Mexico's 1-0 win - only their third win ever at Jamaica. Had they not been paying attention? Did they not remember that Mexico had tied their first three qualifers (two at home), and their three other friendlies? With results like that, then perhaps sacrificing elements of the beautiful game might be understood, so long as the W is collected. Slump busters don't have to be pretty to be effective.
"It was a must-win game for us." Javier Hernandez said. "The win gives us much more than the three points. It gives us the confidence we needed to find our way again, which we unfortunately had lost in the three previous ties." Chicharito did not have his best game and could have put the game away late in the second half. Despite his misses, that was one of the big differences between this game and the previous three qualifiers: Mexico generated quality scoring chances. Much more so than they had in their three previous qualifiers. A lot of that was due, in part, to Chepo de la Torre's decision to move Carlos Salcido back to wingback, where the player is admittedly much more comfortable.
Salcido is not the only one. Andres Guardado has also benefited from the move. "It is very apparent that we are comfortable playing with each other. We made some good plays down the flank, and it is something we will surely continue to exploit." Guardado added, "We'll have good games and bad games, but we have known each other for a while now, and the truth is I really like playing with Salcido." It was no surprise then, that the winning goal came from service from the left flank.
Mexico won't have too much time to enjoy the win. They are already in Panama, who many folks (including me) believe have a very realistic chance to qualify for their first World Cup, will host Mexico this Friday before Mexico heads back home for a meeting with the Ticos.
In WCQ, the W's are what's important. The 3G's are a bonus.