Now I admit the title seems a bit off, because Mexico is only in the semi-finals of CONCACAF Olympic qualifying. However, they just need one more win to qualify. The semi-final game will be against Canada, who has shown some major ups and downs in the tournament. Canada tied El Salvador in game one, but shocked the United States with a 2-0 victory. The following game (although not a must win), Canada played Cuba to a 1-1 tie. It is a bit hard to predict how much fire power Canada will have against Mexico, but if one thing is for sure Mexico cannot take this game lightly.
In group stages Mexico was dominant, outscoring opponents 11-1. The swing in momentum is a huge relief to Mexico fans, because the friendly against the United States back in February had us all scratching our heads. Seeing that Mexico has caught rhythm, let us go over what will be the keys to victory…
1) No major changes needed on defense
During group play, the only team to score against Mexico was Trinidad and Tobago, and it was late in the match. The biggest offensive threat Mexico had was Honduras, and kept them completely off the board. Jimenez, Ponce, Mier, and Reyes have been doing a great job in back. Canada has shown that they can counter so they will need to be prepared. Yet, if they play a solid game against Canada, as they did against Honduras, Mexico should walk away with a victory.
2) Avoid the stale possession
The only game that Mexico didn’t need to win, they only put one goal in the net. The major problems against Panama were due to a lot of passes that lead to nothing promising. At times Mexico passed back to the defense for what felt like minuets at a time, which also never really threatened Panama. Being cautious is always good, but if you never get shots off…you cannot score. When Mexico played its best, the slow passing and resorting to the defense was minimal.
3) Fabian will be the go to player
Fabian is by far the leader on this U-23 squad. He has great dribbling skill and vision. Mexico will need Marco to guide the offense in the attack. He will have a good cast around him in Aquino, Cortes, and Pulido. He can create a lot of chances, and install a spark that will get Mexico its best opportunities at scoring. If he comes out confident like in the group stages, Mexico could be punching their ticket to the Olympics.
Overall this should be a good game for Mexico. Canada is a bit of a difficult team to read, but we know they can cause problems. As long as ‘El tri’ comes out as they did in the first two matches, Canada could have a hard time gaining possession. Mexico will be facing Canada this Saturday, March 31st at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. One more win and Mexico will be one of two teams representing the CONCACAF in London. Vamos Mexico!