In the interview area of SunLife Stadium in Miami in February, Mexican defenders had put on a brave face, and had said the right things, but to a man, there was a visible sense of disappointment at how the Mexican national team had been dismantled by Colombia. Mexico had seen great success during the Jose Manuel de la Torre era, and certainly the 2-0 loss to Colombia was the low point.
The great Falcao and his friends had tactically and physically taken Mexico's back line apart, and it soured the sudden optimism that had surrounded El Tri. It's one thing to defend against and beat teams such as Costa Rica and Panama, but it was quite another to match up against the world's best offensive players.
Against Colombia, Mexico allowed 14 shots and gave up 178 touches in the attacking half all while holding the Cafeteros to just a 78 percent pass completion rate. This meant that while Mexico played decent team defense, mistakes by the back line had resulted in both scores. Against good offensive teams, it takes just a momentary lapse to change the dynamic of a match.
One particular moment -- a lapse if you will -- during Mexico's 2-0 win against Brazil at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, said all anybody needed to know about Mexico's new back line. In a tangle toward the end of the game, the dynamic Neymar had taken exception to a challenge from right back Severo Meza. After getting up from the tumble, Neymar preened toward Meza and challenged him. Meza went to Neymar and gave him a push that sent Neymar reeling to the ground like a rag doll.
The moment was simply a representation of how Meza had harassed, thumped and stunted each and every one of Neymar's attempted runs on Mexico's right side. One of the best players in the world had been thwarted by the starting right back of Rayados de Monterrey, and the Brazilian's entire offense, one that had overwhelmed the United States just three days prior, had been muted by Mexico's new back line of Meza, Hector Moreno, Javier Rodriguez and Jorge Torres Nilo.
This time, when challenged, Mexico's back line decided to push back.
Without a doubt, this group -- which consisted of two European-based players and two players from the Mexican first division -- proved they should be Mexico's No. 1 choice moving forward.