The empire strikes back could have been the headline for Saturday as Mexico beat nemesis Costa Rica to reclaim a little bit of lost mojo. But now Mexico must go to Honduras and slay another dragon, in the form of traditional Mexican killer Carlos Pavon.
Pavon’s international career has been on the rocks of late not featuring for Honduras in a year and a half before David Suazo’s injury with Benfica a little over a week ago. Now Pavon will be looking to derail Mexico again.
For years now when Honduras has needed a goal against Mexico, they’ve often gotten it thanks to Pavon. Now Pavon joins a Honduran squad that outplayed Mexico twice at the semifinal stage. Amado Guevara, Wilson Palacios and Carlos Costly have all played well recently against Mexico as well.
The Mexicans have a renewed confidence after Saturday’s impressive win at Azteca versus Costa Rica. Andreas Guardado, CONCACAF’s champion flopper actually stayed on his feet most of the night and was instrumental and influential in the Mexican attack. At the back Mexico looked solid which is especially telling because Rafa Marquez who has been accused by some in the Mexican media of not taking national team duty seriously was suspended.
Mexico has been struggling now for years in Central America. During qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, El Tri was smashed in both Honduras and Costa Rica. During the last qualifying cycle Mexico’s results were satisfactory but the performances but the performances were less than pleasing for the Mexican fans and media who used it as cause to give Manager Ricardo LaVolpe a difficult time. Since the 2006 World Cup, Mexico has not only lost a qualifying trip to Honduras but has struggled to beat Central American teams on American soil losing twice to Guatemala and once to Honduras in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Mexico also beat Costa Rica by a single late goal in the 2007 Gold Cup when Mexico was playing with 11 men against Costa Rica’s 8, since two had been sent off and one had been injured)
Looking at Costa Rica they face perhaps the easiest match of the Hexagonal, hosting El Salvador at Saprissa Stadium. This should be relatively uncomplicated game for the Ticos against an over matched and outclassed opponent. Andy Furtado looked to not have his head completely in the match on Saturday in Mexico City, but should bounce back strong at home.
The US has a similarly easy match against an aging Trinidad and Tobago side that has traditionally been woeful away from home in CONCACAF. Despite the embarrassing American performance for much of the match against El Salvador on Saturday, this is relatively uncomplicated fixture for the US. The real challenge for Bob Bradley’s side is to not repeat the performance against El Salvador in May versus Costa Rica. If the US performs for 70 minutes in San Jose the way they did in San Salvador, The Ticos could have a four goal cushion by the time the Americans decide to start playing football.
Honduras 2 Mexico 1
Costa Rica 4 El Salvador 0
USA 3 Trinidad and Tobago 1