Mexico coach Miguel Herrera has named a youthful side to take on Bolivia in Tuesday’s friendly in Colorado. After El Tri played out a goalless draw with Chile at the weekend in what was their first match since being knocked out of the 2014 World Cup in the Round of 16, Herrera has made a full 11 changes for the second match against South American opposition. The fact that Mexico don’t face another competitive match until next summer has given Herrera room for experimentation, while he also explained that his side’s participation in both the Gold Cup and Copa America means it’s necessary to find an expanded group of players he can count upon.
“In June and July, we have to put together two national teams, two that can win both the tournaments that we are going to face,” Herrera said, reports ESPN. “We have a good team, with good youngsters, and I'm sure tomorrow they will respond.”
After an injury suffered by Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez against Chile, the center of Mexico’s defense has a particularly experimental feel to it. Atlas’s Luis Venegas, Monterrey’s Hiram Mier and Tigres’s Hugo Ayala will occupy the three center-back roles, ahead of Moises Munoz in goal. With the recent retirement of Carlos Salcido and Rafael Marquez absent from this squad and, at the age of 35, unlikely to play on at international level for too much longer, the center-back positions are up for grabs. Miguel Angel Herrera and Oswaldo Alanis were handed debuts in that position against Chile.
In midfield, Antonio Rios will make his first start for Mexico after coming off the bench on Saturday for his second cap, four years after his first. The more internationally experienced Javier Aquino and Marco Fabian will line up wither side of the Toluca player. Pachuca’s Rodolfo Pizarro will play at right wing-back, with one of Mexico’s standout players of the World Cup, Miguel Layun, on the opposite flank. In the absence of Giovani dos Santos, who has been sent back to Villarreal after suffering an injury against Chile, there will be a debut up front for Erick Torres. The lively 21-year-old has struck 14 goals in Major League Soccer for Chivas USA this season and will be joined in attack by Santos Laguna’s Javier Orozco.
While 0-0 was a credible result against a Chile side that knocked out holders Spain at the World Cup and came within a whisker of doing the same to hosts Brazil, Mexico will be expected to get a win by what is expected to be a heavily pro-Mexican crowd at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, near Denver. Bolivia won just two of its 16 matches in its failed attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and lost 4-0 to Ecuador in Florida on Saturday. Mexico have won eight of their nine meetings with Bolivia, the most recent two by score lines of 5-1 and 5-0.
Prediction: Mexico should have too much quality for Bolivia and, if they can take their chances, will get a few goals. Fabian and Aquino provide good attacking options form midfield, while Torres has been in fine form in MLS. There is likely to be some uncertainty at the back, with communication key in a three-man back line, potentially allowing Bolivia a consolation.
Mexico 3-1 Bolivia
Kickoff time: 10 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN2, Univision Deportes, UniMas