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Honduras defeat disappointing but not the end of the world for Mexico

Honduras defeat disappointing but not the end of the world for Mexico
From ESPN - October 12, 2017

It was three points from six for Mexico in what turned out to be a disappointing end to World Cup qualifying for El Tri.

Coach Juan Carlos Osorio and his players were desperate to finish the Hexagonal stage of qualifying undefeated, but followed the 3-1 win last Friday against Trinidad and Tobago in San Luis Potosi by slipping to a 3-2 defeat against Honduras in Central America.

Here's what we learned from Mexico's final two games of the Hex:

Things could be much worse for Mexico

As the knives were being sharpened following Mexico's loss to Honduras and critics like Hugo Sanchez were laying into Osorio, it is worth remembering that almost exactly four years ago, Mexico was in the same position as the United States heading into the last game of qualifying.

Needing a result in Costa Rica, El Tri failed to produce, while the United States managed to score two late goals to overcome Panama away to send Mexico into a playoff against New Zealand.

It was the United States struggling in Trinidad and Tobago this time around and hoping for Mexico to at least manage a tie against Honduras.

Mexico fought hard in San Pedro Sula and chased an equalizer until the very last minute, but it did not come and the United States crashed out of World Cup qualifying. It is a historic event likely to send shockwaves through the game north of the border.

Mexico, on the other hand, finished the Hexagonal five points clear in first place.

Did the last few days make it clear that there is lots to do ahead of the World Cup for Mexico? Sure, but you do not have to stray too far to see what real failure looks like. And Mexico flirted with the same disaster as recently as four years ago.

Honduras loss blow to confidence

It's an exaggeration to say there was an air of invincibility about this Mexico team, but certainly El Tri's swagger around the CONCACAF region was returning. For example, when Trinidad and Tobago took the lead in the second half last Friday, El Tri responded like it was an affront to their dignity and piled on the attacking force to take a 3-1 victory.

Looking further back, the win in Columbus, Ohio, against the United States really set the tone for qualifying and gave Mexico its impulse and confidence following a summer in which it had been battered 7-0 by Chile.

So when Mexico went up on Honduras twice in the first half on Tuesday, it was assumed that El Tri would be able to see out the game. There was a certain amount of confidence there, breed partly perhaps of Mexico's fine defensive record -- El Tri had only conceded four goals in nine Hex games.

As it was, Honduras reacted in the second half and Mexico became paralyzed in the humid conditions.

Falling at the final hurdle in Mexico's last competitive game ahead of the World Cup was not part of Osorio's plan and immediately the criticism about rotations and players playing out of position began.

Hector Moreno more important than ever

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