Concacaf: Lackluster El Tri drops points at home to Canada

Jesüs Corona is moving to Sevilla after spending the past 5 1/2 seasons with Porto. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images)
Jesüs Corona is moving to Sevilla after spending the past 5 1/2 seasons with Porto. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images) /
El Tri 1 Canada 1
Canada’s Alphonso Davies (in red) was a constant threat, giving El Tri fits throughout the match. The Bayern Munich star assisted on Canada’s goal. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Let the pearl-clutching begin. An unimaginative El Tri was outplayed by Canada at Estadio Azteca Thursday night in a World Cup qualifier. Mexico settled for a 1-1 draw that dropped Gerardo Martino’s team into second place behind Team USA.

The result will turn up the heat on “Tata” who was already under pressure after losing two finals to the Americans over the summer. More disturbing was the listless performance from several veterans, reviving questions about Martino’s reliance on the Class of 2018.

The second-guessing will be relentless, tensions will rise and nerves will begin to jangle. The sudden turn of events has upset the optimistic pre-game narrative that had Team Mexico well on its way to Qatar 2022 after the October FIFA break.

Sunday’s showdown at the Azteca against Honduras suddenly looms as a must-win for El Tri.

El Tri comes out flat-footed, never finds stride

Mexico never asserted control of this match, too often caught out by the speed of the Canadians. The midfield trio of Andrés Guardado, Héctor Herrera and Edson Álvarez was on its heels at times, and Herrera and winger Jesús Corona were careless with the ball.

El Tri did not look anything like a world Top 10 team, belying the No. 9 ranking it holds in the latest FIFA World Rankings.

Right back Jorge Sánchez put Mexico up 1-0 in minute 21, cleverly knocking down a Hirving “Chucky” Lozano pass and quickly left-footing it under the sprawling Maxime Crepeau.

Canada equalized just before the half, catching the El Tri defense napping on a throw in.

Alphonso Davies was left alone in the middle of the field for a square pass, he trapped, turned, and quickly zipped a lead pass to Jonathan Osorio who had a step on Néstor Araujo into the box.

Osorio’s one-timer curled past Memo Ochoa and inside the left post. Araujo had carelessly taken the wrong angle off the throw in and kept Osorio onside on the play.

Uninspiring performance from the home team

Few Tricolores stood out for special mention. Ochoa made three top-quality saves and César Montes acquitted himself well (it was his long diagonal pass out of the back that led to Mexico’s goal). Raúl Jiménez looked dangerous at times, as did “Chucky” but they never really got in sync.

Those critics who blamed Mexico’s loss in the Gold Cup final on Martino’s predilection for sticking with veterans will be in full voice, and they’ll have a leg to stand on.

The decisions – with regards to tactics and personnel – “Tata” takes ahead of Sunday’s match against Honduras might well determine his own fate and make clear how tricky Mexico’s Road to Qatar will be.

Offensive chant heard yet again

Salvadoran ref Ismael Cornejo momentarily halted the match in minute 58, summoning both teams to the center circle after the infamous “homophobic” jeer that is too often heard at Mexico games echoed through Estadio Azteca.

Just last month, El Tri was forced to play its previous home qualifier in an empty stadium because fans had once again violated Concacaf’s anti-discrimination clause, an infraction that resulted in a hefty fine and a one-game ban (no fans allowed).

Next. Newcastle fans have spoken. dark

It remains to be seen if Concacaf will react to this latest transgression before Sunday’s scheduled match against Honduras. Mexican football is left with another black eye, nonetheless.