What El Tri needs to fix before Honduras
MEXICO CITY -- The horde of reporters assembled within the Estadio Azteca mixed zone logically descended upon Javier Hernandez when the Manchester United striker walked out of El Tri's locker room. Hernandez displayed a look commonly described as "deer in the headlights." The usually bubbly and positive Chicharito was in no mood to talk, but ultimately, his politeness and manners outweighed the frustration and disappointment in his eyes.
"All we can do is congratulate [Jamaica] and move on," Hernandez went on to say, his eyes darting around. "We leave here frustrated and with a very acute sense of bitterness."
Those were themes repeated throughout the night, as fans who filed into a half-empty Estadio Azteca booed the team off the pitch after the first half, sung "oles" every time Jamaica completed a pass against the national team in the second half and simultaneously hurled insults at their own players while begrudgingly applauding the opposition.
It seeped into the press conference. Chepo talked of his team feeling "pressured and tense," while Maza Rodriguez apparently flipped the bird at a TV camera when walking off the pitch. All of them images of a memorable night that El Tri would most likely wish to forget as soon as possible.
Mexico was unable to take three points at home in a World Cup qualifier for the first time since 2001 and must now face what is arguably the most difficult road game on their schedule for the entire Hexagonal -- at Honduras. Less than three hours before De la Torre's team took the pitch in Mexico City, the other favorite to finish atop the qualifying group, the United States, dropped a 2-1 decision in San Pedro Sula, looking overmatched and outplayed.
Suddenly, with Honduras atop the group and four teams trailing with one point apiece, things don't look so cut and dried for a Mexico team that was banking on smooth sailing from the get-go. But for all the decisions Chepo and his coaching staff got wrong in their opening match, the silver lining is clearly this: there is plenty of time to fix what went awry.