Mexico defeated Costa Rica 2-0 at Estadio Azteca on March 28, 2009.

The  goal scorers include Omar Bravo and Pavel Pardo (penalty).

First half summary (be sure to watch in “High Quality”):

Second half:

Mexico will next face Honduras on Wednesday, April 1, 2009. The match will be played in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

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The US celebrates a goal against Mexico.

The February 11th, 2009 match against the United States was a continuation of Mexico’s performances during the past twelve months. The hard truth is that the squad has been a tad bit dysfunctional and out of form as of late. Mexico was less than impressive during the previous qualification round, and if it had it not been for Canada’s shoddy defense or Jamaica’s inability to score, it’s doubtful that Mexico would have made it into the current Hex. The 2-0 loss against the US should not be so shocking to Mexican fans – not because of recent history against the US – but because Mexico has failed to make crucial changes where they have been needed most. These points of discussion were present against Jamaica, Canada, and Honduras and they were even more evident against the US this past month .

So what are Mexico’s continuing plagues?

Mexico’s central midfield is in serious need of a rejuvenation.

Pavel Pardo is a great player but he is quickly aging and losing the form he once had. He can connect his passes and put up good free kicks, but his legs are no longer as fast as they once were. His greatest trait is that he is a great team leader. Rafael Marquez often gets the badge because he’s critical in organizing the back line, but Pavel is often the one organizing the offense. Pavel’s return to Mexican club football amidst a great season with Stuttgart has been overshadowed by a shaky start with Club America.

Leandro Augusto is a great club player, but he has failed to impress at the national level. He typically has great accuracy in his passes and is a great marker, but it seemed as though only 10-20% of his passes connected against the US. He simply seemed lost on the pitch. Both he and Pavel Pardo are in their 30’s and though they will hardly be ‘too old’ to miss out on 2010, Mexico will need to start transitioning young guys into the fold.

The younger Gerardo Torrado was forced to miss out on the match due to suspensions, but he too has been plagued by a recent stint of bad form and performances not just at the club level but on the national stage as well.

Mexico’s forwards are having a confidence crisis.

It has been clear for a while that Carlos Ochoa and Matias Vuoso have had favorable assessments from Sven-Goran Eriksson but they have shown little to the general public in the way of being the answers to their prayers. Carlos Ochoa was called up for the national team selection during the 2002 World Cup qualifiers under the direction of Javier Aguirre, but after several dissappointing performances he fell out of favor and missed out during the World Cup stage. These two forwards add much to their respective clubs but their talents and traits have yet to carry over well at the national level.

While many fans (and foes) were undoubtedly happy to see Jared Borgetti‘s reign at the national level end, it is becoming abundantly clear that Mexico dooes not have a central forward of his caliber. He was never the greatest player to suit up for El Tri but he, at the least, consistent and dependable with 46 goals in 89 caps. The bright side is that Mexico holds promising, if only budding, talent in likes of Carlos Vela, Giovani dos Santos, Nery Castillo, and Omar Arrellano.

Whom to keep as the keeper?

As far as Mexico’s keepers go, previous entries will show you my personal sentiment regarding Oswaldo Sanchez: he must go. His time is over. He served Mexico well but the feeling shared by many fans is that he is no longer welcome.

For a re-cap of my thoughts on Mexico’s depth at the goalkeeping position, I encourage everyone to read my entry from January 12, 2009.

Jose de Jesus Corona has been a decent keeper for quite some time and though he has been called on for the national team since 2005, he has yet to be given real time on the pitch. He currently plays for Tecos of Mexico’s Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, who have recently been heavy favorites for regulation from Mexico’s top flight division. He has not been the most consistent keeper for some time now and this fact has only further pushed him away from the starting line-up. Some will argue that if there ever was a time for him to land the starting role, his best chance would have been during the 2006 World Cup process.  Oswaldo Sanchez, perhaps rightfully so, overshadowed him then as he does now. Fortunately for Corona, the season has started well for him and his club. In the five matches he has played in, he has only allowed three goals, allowing his team to start the season with a 3-1-1 record.

Luis Ernesto Michel has been one of the more consistent keepers in Mexico for some time now but he too has failed to prove to his coaches (including LaVolpe, Hugo, and Sven) that he is the replacement Mexico is in need of. He has also been plagued by injuries recently and this has only worked to add more distance between himself and the starting role.  Unfortunately he might experience what other keepers did during the era of Jorge Campos where the name and fan appeal of one keeper – in this case Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa – might win over actual substance. But one can also look at it from a statistical point of view and argue differently:

Memo Ochoa: 157 games with Club America’s senior squad, 16 starts with the senior national team, 6 starts with the sub-23. Clausura 2005 Champion.

Michel: 73 games with Santos and Guadalajara’s senior squads, 0 starts with any of the national teams.

One of the biggest criticisms against Memo is that he still makes a lot of rookie mistakes. When he was younger and being hyped by the press, they said he was not starting material because he was a rookie making rookie mistakes. Today he is a bit older and more experienced but people are still saying that he is making the same rookie mistakes as before.

The following are just personal assessments and those of you with more keeping experience may disagree with my comments, but to serve as examples:

0:40 Deemed an ‘easy’ save by many.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_YGsb1OK8Y

0:50 He fails to close down the space, pressure the rushing forward. He simply stands there, awkwardly, for a second or two.
1:19 He fails to come out and sticks to his line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVp75y3JQ1I

Note: The video referenced are from Mexico’s qualification bid during the 2008 CONCACAF Pre-Olympic tournament.