El Tri reestablishes offensive identity
CARSON, Calif. -- While Mexico hobbled out of the locker room at the end of a 7-1 drubbing of Trinidad and Tobago with bruised shins, wobbly ankles and stretched-out hamstrings as a result of an aggressive defensive gameplan by its opponents, El Tri's most important, and some would say its most fragile, part had been spared: the players' egos.
Friday's blowout reestablished this Mexico squad as an offensive force in Olympic qualification and gave the U-23 team a much-needed confidence boost heading into its most important match to date, a Sunday pairing against Honduras, a 3-1 winner in its opener against Panama, which will likely determine the winner of Group B. Winning Group B is vital, since the group runner-up is likely to play a hot United States team, the prohibitive favorites in Group A, in the semis in a loser-goes-home matchup.
Prior to Friday, there had been tremendous doubt as to whether Mexico, though skilled and masters of possession, could actually put the ball inside the net. A 2-0 shutout loss to the United States in February and a 2-1 win against Senegal last week, in which both goals came on penalty kicks, did nothing to dispel the belief that Mexico lacked a quality striker at the U23 level.