Having yet to taste defeat or even a draw in CONCACAF play and since manager Juan Carlos Osorio took over, Mexico seeks their fourth consecutive victory and another over Canada in Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
El Tri blasted the Canadian 3-0 in Vancouver last week behind goals from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Hirving Lozano and Jesus Corona, while holding their North American opponents to only two shots on goal.
The victory keeps Mexico as the only perfect squad on the CONCACAF table, as well as five points clear of the second-place Canadians in Group A. All told, they’ve netted eight goals and haven’t allowed one either despite top keeper Guillermo Ochoa sitting on the bench for the early qualifying action.
El Tri is soaring at the moment, though Osario has hinted at lineup changes. The potential moves aren’t due to any poor play, but are actually a credit to Mexico’s excellent performances and deep roster. As such, and with such a big lead on the table, Osario could turn to 20-year-old Chivas Guadalajara midfielder Oberlin Pineda to make his debut.
Canada manager Bentio Floro, however, doesn’t necessarily have the same luxury and will need to spruce up the attack. The Canadians have scored just one goal and allowed three during CONCACAF play. However, midfielder Will Johnson said the disappointing loss to Mexico had more to do with execution than talent on the field.
“We’ve got to keep our shape a little bit, understand that they are a very good counterattacking team,” Johnson said after the game. “We don’t need to commit as many numbers forward as possible at all times. [We have to] understand that holding a shape is OK at times too.”
Forward Cyle Larin, the 20-year-old who scored Canada’s singular goal during qualifying play, will certainly need more help from his midfield and from career-leading scorer and forward Tousaint Ricketts. Presently unattached to any club team, Ricketts has 12 international goals in his career, double that of 32-year-old Iain Hume and midfielder Atiba Hutchinson.
D: Layun, Moreno, Reyes, Aguilar
M: Guardado, Marquez, Herrera
F: Fabian, Hernandez, Corona
D: Jakovic, Henry, Straith, De Jong
M: De Guzman, Johnson, Hoilett, Rickets, Hutchinson
Kickoff: Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: Mexico over Canada, 3-1