Wednesday, October 2 marks an odd friendly on the Mexico calendar. It’s a friendly not particularly associated with a FIFA date, and not even the Mexican futbol calendar stops for it. And for El Tri, it’s the only friendly since Gerardo Martino took over as tecnico of El Tricolor that will be played in Mexico in 2019, with Estadio Nemesio Diez being the venue of the evening.
The match against the Soca Warriors on that Wednesday is the last match Martino will have to see any potential player for his side’s Nations League A games kicking off in a little over one week’s time. The side, which features the following players, is a largely young side with no player older than 24 years of age and no player based outside of Mexico. But it is a side filled with skill, versatility, regular experience, and some familiarity with the expectations that “Tata” and his coaching staff have of his players.
Goalkeepers: Raul Gudiño (Chivas), Sebastian Jurado (Veracruz), Jose Hernandez (Atlas)
Defenders: Alan Mozo (Pumas), Adrian Mora (Toluca), Ismael Govea (Atlas), Gerardo Arteaga (Santos Laguna), Vladimir Loroña (Tijuana), Jesus Angulo (Atlas), Cristian Calderon (Necaxa), Johan Vasquez (Monterrey), Luis Romo (Queretaro)
Midfielders: Jonathan Gonzalez (Monterrey), Erick Aguirre (Pachuca) , Sebastian Cordova (America), Francisco Venegas (Tigres), Joaquin Esquivel (FC Juarez), Jesus Ricardo Angulo (Necaxa), Ian Jairo Torres (Atlas), Adrian Lozano (Santos Laguna), Ivan Rodriguez (Leon)
Forwards: Jose Juan Macias (Leon), Paolo Yrizar (Queretaro), Jesus Godinez (Leon)
This side will be facing a Trinidad and Tobago side that is based more internationally–five of manager Dennis Lawrence‘s 21 players are based abroad, with three playing lower division football in the U.S. and two playing either franchise football (Indian Super League) or first division football (in the I-League). In fact, the core
The squad features players who might be familiar to El Tri fans, like Daneil Cyrus, Leston Paul, and Curtis Gonzales, who played the most recent World Cup qualifying games against El Tri in 2017, and even going back to games in 2015.
And Lawrence is going into the game with his own strategy which might not be how to beat El Tri for the first time since 2005. That strategy may be more focused as to how he and his selection are going to engage Honduras on October 10 effectively. From Lawrence’s perspective, El Tri can break the Soca Warriors‘ concentration on the wings and through their circulation. However, unlike the Catrachos that the Soca Warriors could face, they have tended to not break their structure in recent games.
But there is also a large part of the Soca Warriors‘ side unknown to El Tri and many of the El Tri players Martino may have brought in for the friendly, possibly to a view to either Olympic qualifying or the Nations League itself, may be unfamiliar with how they have to operate in the context of an actual game environment.
There is also a challenge for the Mexico fans at the Nemesio Diez that is turned into the focus of Gerardo Martino’s press conference comments–refuse to chant “pu–” on goalkicks with somewhat significant consequences for transgression. An instance of the chant being heard, with its homophobic undertones, could potentially see a future El Tri game behind closed doors or a game paused, at the bare minimum.
The match kicks off at 10:06 PM Eastern DST and can be seen in the United States on UniMas, TUDN, and TUDN Xtra and wherever they can be streamed.