Five things to watch during Mexico vs. Honduras

Months of waiting and weeks of speculation will end when Mexico finally takes the field against Honduras at Estadio Azteca tonight. It is the most significant game of the Hexagonal to date for El Tri, a chance to atone for the three scoreless draws in Mexico City and ease the tension ahead of the final three Hex matches.

The buildup to the game included plenty of discussion about its overall significance and the particular selection quandaries facing José Manuel de la Torre ahead of the encounter (please add link from secondary preview when posted). Here are five more points to watch as the tense affair unfolds this evening.

1. How will Mexico process the pressure?

El Tri crumbled under the pressure to dictate terms and sweep aside its opposition in its previous three home matches. It cannot afford a similar display against the Hondurans. This group must exude confidence from the opening whistle and stamp its intent on the game early to calm the inevitable nerves and set the tone for the affair.

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Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa returns to square one


By Kyle McCarthy

This summer has not delivered the rewards Guillermo Ochoa expected.

Ochoa did everything within his power to position himself for a lucrative move. He performed admirably in a poor Ajaccio side last season and stuck to his task even as he angled for a transfer elsewhere. He racked up a few extra caps earlier this year before Mexico coach José Manuel de la Torre opted to return to preferred number one Jesus Corona.

By the start of his club campaign, Ochoa probably expected to turn out for a significant European side on a fairly regular basis. Maybe he even harbored genuine hopes of applying pressure with his increased profile to reclaim his number one shirt with El Tri.

So much for those mooted developments.


Ochoa joined Carlos Vela in the cast of prominent de la Torre exiles when he rejected overtures to feature as Corona’s backup for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and the United States. He then listened on Saturday as Ajaccio president Alain Orsoni noted a lack of concrete interest from AC Milan or any other purported suitor and suggested it would take a miracle for Ochoa to sign for a new club before the window slams shut on Monday.

At some point, Ochoa must start to wonder whether things will shift in his direction. He can point to his work over the past year or so and reasonably contend that he warrants the number one shirt for his country and a larger club somewhere in Europe.

Instead of fulfilling those ambitions, Ochoa — barring a late swoop inspired by Orsoni’s fairly transparent entreaties — will bide his time on Corsica and wait for patiently for his luck to turn. It isn’t exactly what he envisioned, but the prospect of spending some extra time on a Mediterranean island in the interim at least provides modest compensation for his toil:

Images: (Pascal Pochard-Casbianca/AFP/Getty Images)


Gold Cup Recap: Mexico, Panama advance to semifinals

As expected, there were no upsets during Saturday’s CONCACAF’s Gold Cup action as Panama and Mexico both stamped their semifinals tickets.

El Tri, a six-time Gold Cup champion going for its third straight title, edged Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 behind Raul Jimenez’s 84th minute strike to help embattled manager Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre silence his critics for at least one night.

Though Mexico failed to produce a convincing win against the Caribbean nation, Mexican fans will undoubtedly take solace that their beloved national team will live to fight another day:

As for Julio Dely Valdes’ side, Los Canaleros didn’t need long to dispose a Cuban side who looked eager to continue their Gold Cup run after José Ciprian Alfonso opened matters with a beautiful first-touch volley in the 21st minute. Cuba’s lead, however, was short-lived as Panamanian forward Gabriel Torres increased his tournament tally to five goals after two quick strikes in the first half:

The wheels eventually came off for Cuba in the second half after Ariel Martinez was sent off justifiably by referee Mark Geiger for a ruthless challenge on Panama’s Blas Perez in the 58th minute:

Mexico will now face Panama in the Gold Cup semifinals on Wednesday at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. If you recall, Panama upset Mexico 2-1 in a group match and El Tri will surely seek revenge for their hiccup at the Rose Bowl earlier this month.


Debate of Mexican naturalization reignites old arguments


Photo: FOXSports.com

By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com


Every sentence out of José Manuel de la Torre carries the potential to infuriate at the moment, but the Mexico manager’s current stance on the prospect of including nationalized players in his squad will likely provoke genuine anger in some quarters.

The idea of allowing naturalized citizens – usually defined in this case as imports with no familial ties to the country – to play for El Tri sparks vociferous debate every time the topic emerges. It did when Guillermo Franco, Antonio Naelson Sinha and Vicente Matías Vuoso earned a place in the team. It does now when the possibility of including Christian Giménez (a player who has already declared his willingness to turn out for Mexico), Lucas Lobos and Lucas Silva in a future squad rises to the fore.

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