The October friendlies are upon us and Mexico will actually play them in Mexico. Just how rare is a Mexico game in the country of Mexico?
Game vs. Honduras is El Tri’s second friendly in the Mexico in the past 2 years, compared to 12 in the United States in that time.
— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) October 8, 2014
That rare. National team games are like printing money in the US (and the federation has a contract to play a certain # of games there). Let’s see what Piojo has in store for us tonight.
Kickoff: 10/9/14, 8:00PM (Central Time)
TV: ESPN2 (English), UniMas (Spanish)
XI de México ante Honduras mañana: Ochoa, Aguilar, Domínguez, Alanís, Layún, Pérez, Herrera, Ríos, Fabián, Peralta y Hernández #ElTrienTD
— Televisa Deportes (@TD_Deportes) October 8, 2014
That is your starting line up against our fellow CONCACAF member, Honduras. It features a new group of CBs trying to cement spots in an area of weakness for Mexico. Would I have started anyone different in the back 5? Yes, but injuries and stupidity have prevented Piojo from using a couple of players he wanted to evaluate first hand.
Hiram Mier is player many have wanted to take a look at since he has recovered from his serious knee injury. I rate him very highly and easily see him starting next summer for the “A” team or whatever team we send to Copa America. Unfortunately, he was injured playing for Monterrey on that disaster of a field pictured above. The refs eventually postponed the game but only after Mier had to be taken out. Many blame the league for letting the TV network dictate if the game should have eve been attempted. Whatever the case may be, Mier was hurt and out of action for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. Jorge Torres Nilo will yet again miss national team games due to injuries. He picked up a knock in training and will not be featured in the 2 October friendlies. The lack of first team minutes has hurt Diego Reyes and he was not called upon for these 2 friendlies. I’m not sure he will get the call next month when Piojo is expected to call on many European based players. If he still does not see minutes by January, look for Porto to loan him out.
As for the rest of the starting lineup, its more of the same for Piojo. The real interesting lineup choices will be in November when plenty of European based players will be called up. I will probably write an article later about who I want to be called up. Spoiler alert: Nery Castillo is not on my list.
Guillermo Ochoa is el capitan for tonight’s match and has all the support from Piojo he could ask for. Herrera always mentions his club situation and how Ochoa should be starting for Malaga and how Memo is working hard toward earning the #1 spot there. Many do expect Ochoa to start playing for his club team, the current keeper has not been spectacular. My only gripe, again, is the lack of a young keeper being called in as well. A keeper who will not feature in the 2 games but will be there to learn from Memo/Talavera/coaching staff. Jose Antonio Rodriguez would have been my pick for this 3rd gk. He’s had a solid season at the relegation-threatened Chivas and could do well by being called into a camp.
The midfield is in search for depth at the holding position. Jona Dos Santos will likely earn a shot there in November, tonight will have Rios in that role. He played well last month after Gallito got hurt and we should see a similar outing from him. With Jona Dos Santos finally playing up to the hype, it puts pressure on the other players at the position to step up their game. A player to watch for is Arturo “Ponchito” Gonzalez. Ponchito might get some minutes tonight for his debut with the senior national team. The U17 World Cup winner has played well for Atlas and earned this call up. I believe he would be the first member from that WC winning team to make their senior debut. Mexico has had success at the youth level for some time now, it is important for them to continue to develop these players into full senior internationals. As Piojo mentioned in a previous press conference, the senior team needs to look to their successful youth teams for players instead of calling up the same aging players. Calling the same players leads to the national team not having any replacements when they finally retire. I am very hopeful Herrera will not make that mistake.
El Cepillo and Chicharito up top. History has shown us this partnership lacks in production. Piojo is hoping to turn that trend around. Will it work? I don’t know but I don’t see him trying it again in the future. When Mexico has their full arsenal of forwards (yes, I’m counting Vela), there will not be a need to try this pair up top. But it keeps Chuletita off the starting 11, we can get behind that. Cubo Torres is in the team and will likely get a big ovation anytime he touches the ball. He played well last time out but was not able to grab that elusive first goal. His club situation is in a bit of a flux, but MLS is expected to pick up his reported $7mil price tag regardless of the situation at Chivas USA. But where will he play in MLS is a bit of a mystery. He has a bright future and has done well to rebuild his career after a rough patch at Guadalajara.