In their first game of the 2014 calender year and their first of six pre-2014 World Cup friendlies, México defeated South Korea 4-0 in a friendly played at the Alamodome. It was a game that started off slow for ‘El Tri,’ but once they got going, they were very effective in victory. While the main test will come on March 5 against Nigeria in the only FIFA friendly prior to the end of the season, there are some conclusions that can be drawn from this game.
The first 30 minutes of the first half saw South Korea be the better team. As they had the better scoring chances to open up, they were unable to convert a one vs. one against Rafael Marquez, whose lack of pace at his 34 years of age was exposed. Luckily for México, however, South Korea failed to score. The other two clear cut scoring chances that South Korea had came as a result of free kick and corner kick opportunity. This highlighted and exposed what has been an issue for the Mexican National Teams as long as I can remember, which is issues with set piece defending.
In the final 15 minutes of the first half, México proved to be lethal and effective at converting their scoring chances with the ever present and beloved Oribe Peralta opening the scoring account with a calmly taken shot after a well delivered pass from left wing back Miguel Ponce. México made it 2-0, as a Carlos Peña pass in the penalty area bounced around a few times before Alan Pulido would christen his senior national debut by pouncing on the loose ball to make it 2-0 ‘El Tri’ to score the first of his three goals on the night.
The first half answered alot of questions, while also bringing up several more, which in this case, is a positive thing for Miguel Herrera and his coaching staff. The first main takeaway is that young players whom were told this was going to be the only game to impress were able to impress. Juan Jose Vasquez did a fine job as the holding midfielder and initiating attacks with his passes, while wing backs Ponce and Rodolfo Pizarro acquitted themselves well, with Ponce now making a serious case to be a potential inclusion in the 23-man squad for the 2014 World Cup.
Another young player who acquitted himself well was Isaac Brizuela, who played in a more central, advanced playmaking role. Diego Reyes, who looked a bit rusty at first, played well and got better as the game went along. Additionally, goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera did well when called upon to make key saves, especially in the first half.
While México took their play down a notch for the first 25 minutes of the second half as a result of leading 2-0 and because of the number of substitutions they made during the second half, there are a few things that need to be worked and tweaked as Herrera continues preparing for the World Cup, and both deal with defending. As mentioned, set piece defending, which has always been an issue, was once again on Wednesday night. Making sure that Marquez is well accompanied in the three-man central defense to cover his lack of pace will be key to figure and work out.
All that said, México could not have asked for a better start to their 2014 season and to their preparations for the 2014 World Cup.
Lucas Carreras is a contributing Soccer and San Francisco 49ers writer for RantSports.com. You can follow Lucas on Twitter by following him @maldini3fan, and you can add him to your network on Google.