The Youngsters Pull Through for Mexico

I thought the new black strip would be hideous, but I didn’t hate it. At first I couldn’t look, but I couldn’t turn away.

At one point in Mexico’s 2-0 win over New Zealand yesterday, half the outfield players were either in the U20 a few summers ago in Canada or even younger. Another U20 had already been subbed out. The other more veteran half plays in Europe. They combined to get two second half goals for the win.

Two of the whippersnappers got the goals tonight, while a guy who is almost twice their age showed it. I know for fact that Chicago has some fantastic restaurants, but it turns out that they just can’t compare to the ones in Veracruz. Our Mr. Blanco has been eating well and looked every bit a 37 year old playing a young man’s game. But it’s also March, not June.

I am also going to take a wild guess and say that the Chicago Fire fitness program is a little more comprehensive than what the Red Sharks are doing. Just a guess, though. And let’s not forget that he can still serve’em up. He provided service for a Jona Dos Santos volley that hit the crossbar so hard, the ball ended up in the Arroyo Seco. It would have been an unbelievable way to trumpet his arrival.

The two youngsters that scored tonight were Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez. Chicharito has now scored 22 goals in his last 28 games, and Carlos Vela showed in a span of 20 minutes why he is and isn’t quite ready to be an every day player for Arsenal. He went shoulder to shoulder with a Kiwi defender to win a ball, made a nifty inside cut and scored with his off foot. Then he had an awkward step, tweaked something and finished the game on the bench with an ice pack on his leg.

It was friendly in the truest sense. Javier Aguirre gave everyone of his outfield players at least 30 minutes of game time. The 90,000+ crowd saw el Vasco do some serious line up juggling in the second half. Rafa Marquez spent most of the second half in the midfield, which really takes advantage of his biggest strengths in his passing and vision, while limiting his glaring liability. He is known as el Kaiser de Michoacán for a reason and was very comfortable as DM. It was good to see him joining the attack a little more.

New Zealand may have been the toughest test, but they fit the mold of teams that always makes Mexico pull their collective hair out: defensive, physical teams. The Kiwis rarely threatened and didn’t even amass a shot on goal.

Mexico is playing well, regardless of opponent. There is no denying that the team is showing some good early signs. But it’s also March, not June. Keep the expectations tempered for now. They will have a few more games (against some more flan) which will feature domestic players only before they meet back up with the Mexpats in May over in Europe. The real pleasant surprise, however, is that Mexico is doing this with the youngsters. The final 23 players may have up to 7 players who are 21 or younger.

That’s a lot of utes.

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