Will ‘Tata,’ El Tri make adjustments for U.S., Canada?

Edson Álvarez is the anchor of "Tata" Martino's midfield, but he could use younger linemates. Will "Tata" oblige? (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Edson Álvarez is the anchor of "Tata" Martino's midfield, but he could use younger linemates. Will "Tata" oblige? (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
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El Tri adjustments
Néstor Araujo got himself ejected against el Salvador so will be unavailable when El Tri faces Team USA. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

The back line is Mexico’s most problematic

Néstor Araujo may have cost himself a starting spot in Qatar last week. The Celta de Vigo man drew a needless and reckless red card in El Salvador, erasing Mexico’s man advantage and making the game’s final 23 minutes more difficult than it should have been.

“Tata” was furious at the veteran back-liner, and his errant elbow surely knocked Araujo down the pecking order in central defense. The resulting suspension means the 30-year-old defender is unavailable for the Nov. 12 qualifier in Cincinnati against Team USA.

With just one other match during the November FIFA break, Martino might give Araujo’s minutes to Olympic bronze-medalist Johan Vásquez. The 22-year-old Vásquez – now playing in Serie A with Genoa – has one cap with El Tri.

Vásquez made his Serie A debut on Sunday, getting the start for Genoa against Sassuolo and scoring the equalizer in minute 90.

César Montes, another bronze-medalist, has been the lone bright spot on defense for “Tata.” The lanky 24-year-old has benefited from playing alongside veterans (with both Araujo and Héctor Moreno, his Monterrey teammate), so a Montes-Vásquez pairing against Team USA is unlikely.

In addition to his solid defensive play, Montes is a threat on set pieces. Furthermore, he is proving to be a skillful passer from out of the back, especially with long diagonal passes to wingers on the opposite flank.

Moreno is a proven commodity, but at 33 he is getting a little long in the tooth. Working with Montes for both club and country could make a Moreno-Montes pairing the best choice for “Tata.”

As for the fullbacks, the El Tri coach does not yet appear satisfied. Left back Jesús Gallardo has not had the same success with El Tri as he’s enjoyed with Monterrey, while “Chaka” Rodríguez and Jorge Sánchez are prone to untimely mistakes.

Gerardo Arteaga could challenge Gallardo, but the Genk man fell out of favor when he backed out of the Olympic squad this summer. Cruz Azul veteran Julio César Domínguez has recently seen action at right back for El Tri but he would seem to be more of a stop gap (but with the added benefit of being a very capable central defender as well).

Unless Arteaga is forgiven, the fullback positions could remain in flux and that could prove problematic as both Team USA and Canada love to attack down the flanks.

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Mexico does have one friendly later this month (Oct. 27 vs Ecuador) that will only feature Liga MX players, so it will be interesting to see how much experimentation takes place. Meanwhile, El Tri fans will be anxious to see the roster “Tata” submits ahead of the November contests, while hoping that the busy Liga MX schedule does not produce tired legs or unfortunate injuries.