Mexico Slogs Through Win vs Israel

The tribute was probably 20 minutes too long,  2 of the goals were gifts, and the starting goal keeper was sent to the hospital.  Aside from that, it was a pretty normal first prep game on the road to the World Cup.

Mexico defeated Israel 3-0 Wednesday night at the Azteca with 2 goals from Miguel Layun (with assists from Israel netminder, Ariel Harush) and another from Marco Fabian.  While the scoreline was flattering, and the crowd was chanting ole, Miguel Herrera has a pretty long list to tackle to get the squad tournament ready.

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

It was the first prep game of 4.  Mexico was without 6 possible starters vs Cameroon, including the entire midfield. Anyone who was expecting anything but a disjointed affair is just delusional.  That said, there were a quite a few positives to take away from the game.

1. Andres Guardado.  He played as a holding midfielder for the first time, which may be a position he is better suited for at this point in his career.  Miguel Herrera did the same thing for Juan Carlos Medina when he took over America with a decent amount of success.  The big difference between Guardado and Medina is that the Little Prince is much better equipped to handle the speed of the international game.  The downside, of course, is that he has played exactly 1 game in one of the outfield's most important positions.  Guardado probably won't start here, but he can be used in a pinch if injury and / or suspensions necessitate it.  Besides, anything would be better than having Carlos Salcido man the midfield. 

2. Carlos Salcido can still play defense.  Speaking of the Tigres, man, Salcido was tried out in a position where he made his bones and did not disappoint.  He kept a line that had never played together before somewhat well organized and had a couple of thundering tackles.  He may have jumped the error prone Maza Rodriguez in the off-the-bench pecking order.  He was always better suited to play on the back line anayway.

3.  Marco Fabian should be an option off the bench.  Miguel Herrera said earlier in the year that Isac Brizuela was the best player in Liga MX at the time.  While that may have been true then, Conejito has struggled to find his form after an injury.  Besides, he does not have all the tools that Fabian does.  When Fabian is playing well, few, if any, Mexican players can match his talent.  2 years ago, Fabian led Mexico to qualify for the Olympics, a win at the Espoirs, and a Gold Medal. 

4. The Brazuca seems to favor Mexico's style of play.  El Tri has a lot of players who have excellent outside shots:  Miguel Layun, Marco Fabian, Luis Montes to name a few.  They have noticed it in practice and will continue to pepper the goalkeepers in these next few games.  Why not?  With all of the poachers they have, rebounds and parries could make things interesting in the goalmouth. 

Of course, Mexico is probably not the only team that has noticed how well the ball flies.

5. Miguel Herrera is honest to a fault.  His predecessors guarded starting line-ups like a matter of national security.  Piojo releases his on twitter.  He might be the most social media-conscious coach in Brazil.  And when Hector Herrera was a late scratch, Herrera explained that his omission was due to "chorro."  Loosely translated (sorry about that) mud butt.  TMI, Piojo.  TMI.

Of course not everything was all smiles and sunshine.

Chicharito looks woefully out of rhythm and at this point will probably be used as an option off the bench.  And he may not even be that unless he can get going. 

Maza Rodriguez gave Chuy Corona headaches, then nearly knocked him out with a knee to back of the head.  He traveled to Dallas in a neck brace (to keep him from licking his wounded pride).

40 minutes to Cuauh was way too long, especially when time is so precious.

The next stop on the tour is a date with perennial friendly mate, Ecuador, who may have as many Liga MX players on the pitch as Mexico. Piojo described the game as the last lab practical before the starters are in place for the last two tilts vs Bosnia Herzegovina and Portugal.