Mexico continue a busy international calendar year on Tuesday as they face Paraguay at the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Here are five questions to ask ahead of Mexico’s second friendly of 2015.
1) Which player will step up for Mexico?
Miguel Herrera’s starting lineup for Tuesday’s clash against Paraguay is more or less a second-string side. On Sunday, the Mexican soccer federation confirmed Miguel Layun, Hector Herrera, Guillermo Ochoa, Andres Guardado, and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona would all be missing for this game. To make matters worse, Jürgen Damm picked up an injury in training.
The presence of Jonathan Dos Santos and Raul Jimenez are good bets for players who will have to take the step forward. Mexico may need these players to play well for the 90 minutes and show the squad is full of personnel ready to step up to any occasion.
2) Can Mexico’s defense hold their own?
A point of criticism for Mexico have been their lack of cohesiveness on the defensive end. Another game, another different defensive line for Miguel Herrera. At first glance, Jürgen Damm’s injury may not be all that bad. The inclusion of another defensive-minded midfielder can bring more balance on the defensive side of things and remove some of the work-load from the center-backs. Nonetheless, questions are still asked about Diego Reyes and Julio Cesar Dominguez. A lot will rest on how they respond.
3) What kind of player will Jesus Dueñas be?
Jesus Dueñas makes his debut with the national team on Tuesday as a right wing-back. Dueñas best position is in the midfield, and perhaps the thinking behind playing him as a wing-back was to have him move into the midfield and cover for Jürgen Damm’s darting runs. With no Jürgen Damm now, Villarreal’s Jonathan Dos Santos will be the creative force in front of Dueñas. In the press-conference prior to the game, Dueñas admitted he feels comfortable playing either position, but a large question mark hovers over how he will answers to these circumstances.
4) Will Miguel Herrera use Eduardo Herrera as Mexico’s target man?
At the time, little was said about the importance Aldo de Nigris played in Mexico winning the 2011 Gold Cup. Despite not being a starter, De Nigris, a six-foot-tall target man, was Mexico’s second highest goalscorer in that tournament, and his physical presence alone proved difficult for opponents.
Raul Jimenez may be the taller of the strikers starting on Tuesday, but Jimenez never made his name as a target man. On the other hand, Eduardo Herrera has always had a physical presence on the attack. Eduardo Herrera will get his much deserved start on Tuesday, but presumably, he won’t be in the running to be a starter in the future. However, come July, if Mexico require a goal in second-half situations, then sticking Eduardo Herrera up to top to emulate De Nigris may not sound like a bad idea.
5) And Meliton Hernandez?
The late great Miguel Calero’s understudy, Meliton Hernandez, will make his debut at goal with the national team. At 32 years old, Meliton will get his first experience with El Tri, and many see it as a reward for his performances in Veracruz’s superb Liga MX season. However, the goalkeeper position is not one position Mexico struggles with, and Meliton is probably a few choices down the pecking order. Still, it will be interesting to see how Meliton emerges from the experience.