Analysis of the Mexican soccer team in Netherlands
Analysis of the Mexican soccer team in Netherlands
The Mexican soccer team gave a good show in Amsterdam.
There was no Arjen Robben penalty controversy this time around.
Instead, it was Carlos Vela – a player who ruled himself out of the World Cup - who made the headlines on his return to Mexico’s national team, scoring once in each half in El Tri’s 3-2 victory over the Netherlands in Amsterdam.
Both goals were quality and the win may have felt like revenge for what happened in the World Cup for Mexico fans but, more importantly, was a statement that, firstly, Brazil 2014 was no fluke and, secondly, that El Tri has a solid platform on which to build moving forward.
It was a dream return and a performance that oozed class.
There was never any doubt about Vela’s talent, but seeing it harnessed in a Mexico shirt would’ve filled coach Miguel Herrera and El Tri fans with possibilities.
The first goal was the kind Vela has netted regularly for Real Sociedad, guiding the ball into the top corner with his left foot from outside the box, while the second to make the score 2-1 was all about the deft control to set up his driven shot.
Vela won’t suddenly change Mexico from being a perennial round of 16 World Cup team to a finalist, but he’s the most likely Mexican player out there to produce game-changing moments of magic. He was the difference on Wednesday against the Netherlands.
Providing he stays for the long-haul, El Tri just got better and “I forgive Vela” was already trending on social networks in Mexico by the final whistle.
When Guillermo Ochoa looks at video of both the goals he conceded, he won’t be happy.
That’s not to say he was completely at fault. Adrian Aldrete’s clearing header was poor and gave Wesley Sneijder time and room to launch a strike for the Netherlands’ first. But Ochoa should’ve probably anticipated the shot better and got nearer to it, even if it was well-placed.
For the second, Daley Blind’s shot did take an awkward deflection off Diego Reyes, which caused him to have to change position, but there are ‘keepers who would’ve palmed it over.
It wasn’t the type of performance Ochoa would’ve wanted considering his difficult position on Malaga’s bench and the prospect of a January move.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is a percentage striker. Give him enough ammunition and he’ll score you goals. That’s been the story of his career at Chivas, Manchester United and with the Mexican national team.
On Wednesday, the partnership of two players that featured together in Chivas’ youth system – where Hernandez played on the right wing and Vela on the left of a 4-3-3 – showed a lot of promise and produced all three goals.
If there is one characteristic that really stands out with Vela it is his intelligence on the field. His decision-making about when to pass, when to shoot and when to use his speed to dribble past opponents is very good and that coupled with Hernandez’s instinct for making runs and tying up defenders should be a great combination moving forward.
Goals shouldn’t be in short supply.
Reyes stands out
Diego Reyes played as a defensive midfielder in the first half and as a center back for most of the second half and showed why most Mexico-followers are scratching their heads at his inability to get minutes with Porto.
The 21-year-old’s obvious defect is his slim frame that can be taken advantage of by certain teams, which was highlighted by Honduras in the Estadio Azteca in World Cup qualifying. But it’s rare that he does get caught out because of it and against the Netherlands he was perhaps Mexico’s best player behind Vela.
With a move from Porto in January widely touted, putting in such a good display in two positions against a top side in Europe can’t have done any harm at all in attracting potential suitors.
Center backs Miguel Herrera and Oswaldo Alanis weren’t terrible, but they didn’t show the authority that they would’ve wanted.
Every time the ball came into the box from the wings, there was a sense of nervousness and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had it mostly his own way in the aerial battles.
Nevertheless, this was an insightful experiment for the duo and one from which they will learn. There is plenty of time until the next World Cup and both Herrera and Alanis are set to feature next summer at either the Gold Cup or Copa America.
Herrera earns the plaudits
If Louis van Gaal deserved the praised heaped on him for switching system during the second half of the round of 16 match in Brazil and getting the win, Herrera should be praised for his actions on Wednesday.
The decision to put Reyes in midfield took the Netherlands by surprise and contributed to Mexico’s dominant first 20 minutes.
Then when the Netherlands came storming back late in the first half and early in the second, Herrera switched it up by taking Miguel Herrera off in the 61st minute and replacing him with Jesus “Tecatito” Corona.
The move seemed to swing the game back in Mexico’s favor and Corona played a sumptuous pass around the defense and onto Vela’s left for Mexico’s second.
It would’ve been a boost of confidence – if he needed it - for a coach managing for the first time in Europe.
More friendlies like this
Coming into the game, El Tri hadn’t played in Europe since September 2011, a run of 25 friendlies in either the US or Mexico.
Within five minutes, the quality of game and the size of the test for Mexico was obvious.
The jet lag, experience in different cultures and, frankly, playing real away games – something Mexico does very little - is one small factor in what El Tri needs to perhaps toughen up a little and not allow what happened in CONCACAF qualifying to reoccur ahead of Russia 2018.
What Mexico achieved in defeating the Netherlands at shouldn’t be underestimated, even if it is going through a bad spell.