As Mexico and Honduras made their way to the field, the afternoon was hitting hard at over 90 degrees. The only thing that would rain today would be the boos during the Mexican National Anthem.
Right before the kickoff, Mexican National team coach Juan Carlos Osorio saw his first big gamble as Head Coach by throwing four centerbacks in his defensive line and lining up with a 5-2-3 that would quickly turn to a 4-4-2 at times with Hugo Ayala, Diego Reyes, Hector Moreno, and Oswaldo Alanis lining up on defense. Miguel Layun played as a makeshift right back or right wing depending how you saw it. In the middle Hector Herrera and Andres Guardado took up the midfield and Javier Aquino on the left, with Javier Hernandez and Raul Jimenez up top.
With the crowd behind them, Honduras came up in full force, pressing Mexico with a high line and hard hits to try and shake the Mexican players with their crowd behind them. With an opening day loss to Canada, Honduras was forced to play a bit more aggressive and try to take the game to El Tri and get the three points.
After weathering the storm early on, Mexico were able to calm down and start playing the ball on the ground and move the ball around. What also followed was the physical aspect that Honduras brought with kicks, hits, and fouls coming from everywhere. Late in the first half the physicality turned its ugly head as Aquino was knocked down from behind to only come crashing down on Honduras defender Luis Garrido’s leg in what was a horrific leg break you wouldn’t want to wish on your worst enemy.
Mexico’s first golden chance came in the second half when Guardado sent a ball into Hernandez who was able to turn, shoot and force the Honduras keeper into a save and left it for Jimenez to score from a few yards out, only to hit it over.
Osorio’s first change came when Jesus Corona came in for Aquino and his impact was felt quickly. After a ball was played into the box from a free kick, the ball landed just at the edge of the box where Corona touched the ball with the outside of his left foot to the right, and before the ball hit the ground he would connect with the right foot and into the lower left corner for a goal that was truly out of this world and give Mexico a 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later, Jurgen Damm would come in for Jimenez, and his impact would also be made instantly. He took the ball from the Honduras defender and made his way into the box. With Corona streaking in the box, Damm looked him down, and hit a no look shot into the net by looking off the keeper and gave Mexico a 2-0 lead.
Last time Mexico had a 2-0 lead in Honduras, the home side was able to comeback and draw 2-2. This time around, Honduras was unable to make any type of real push to give Mexico any real threat. This time around it looked like the heat had warn down the home side and they had no legs and no real attack to speak of that saw Mexico see of the game with little trouble. The only down side was that Alanis had to leave the game after getting his foot stuck on the turf.
Leading up to the game, Honduras coach, Jorge Luis Pinto, had stated that for four months he’d been studying Mexico and had come up with the game plan to beat Mexico at home. While also reminding everyone about his success against Mexico during his time with Costa Rica during the last World Cup cycle and Honduras’s success against Mexico as well. Yet he was completely out coached by his fellow Colombian, J.C. Osorio, as Honduras only real attacking threat were long shots of distance and long balls to the forwards with hope of a Mexican mistake.
Osorio though, would trump any of those idea’s with his four man centerbacks and no defensive midfielder for El Tri. Which means Mexico were aggressive, but not through the outside backs, which took away any real counter attacking options.
Where Osorio also out coached Pinto were in his subs. After Aquino had worked his tail off for over 50 minutes with his hard work, and his anticipation on the field, he had worn down his defenders as well. In came Corona, with fresh legs and a fresh mind and the goal. Damm was similar, as the young speedster caught the lagging, tired, and slow defender on his heels to take the ball and score his goal.
As the game tickled down, Mexico had slowly taken the game out of Honduras, and had taken the life out of the crowd. The fans made their way out of the stadium before the final whistle would blow. Mexico had finally gotten the monkey off their back, and they had finally conquered San Pedro Sula in the first time in 50 years. More importantly, J.C. Osorio has two wins out of two games as Mexican coach, which also means Mexico has two wins in qualifying and six points.
*Top two teams qualifying to the final round of play, known as the Hexagon, or Hex.