After a very successful 2011, Mexico started the 2012 campaign with a win over 3-1 win over Venezuela Wednesday night in Houston. Since the match was not a FIFA-sanctioned international date, neither team was able to field a full-strength squad. That never used to be a problem for the Tri since the majority of their squad played in Mexico.
Mexico’s calendar used to be permeated with these “Partidos Moleros” (loosely translated as ridiculous, time-wasting money grabs), but as more and more of Mexico’s senior-siders emigrated to other leagues, the “partidos moleros” were minimized. But for all of their criticism, over the past few years these partidos moleros were somewhat productive: they helped Javier Hernandez keep up his torrid scoring streak that eventually took him places, for one.
So, that’s what these new batch of the moleros should be used for: finding that next guy. With the majority of the senior side playing elsewhere, who was going to step up? There were plenty of aspirants, as the list of call-ups was made up of what will certainly be the base for Mexico’s pre-olímpico. Moreover, the Quito horn-dogs had served their sentence and were back on the squad. 4 of them: Marco Fabian, Javier Cortes, Nestor Calderon, and Israel Jimenez all were among the starting XI at Reliant Stadium.
The two midfielders, Cortes and Calderon, had the bulk of the possession, but their centering was anything but accurate. Playing as the withdrawn forward, Marco Fabian was decent game and weighed heavily on the game late when he decided to collect the ball deeper in his own half. And Jimenez? Well, whatever good things he did was erased by his flinch at the near post that led to Venezuela’s lone goal.
It was another Olympic hopeful, though, that provided the spark that led to Mexico’s win. Cruz Azul’s Javier Aquino played downhill, won most of his 1v1s, and set up the game-winner. Not a bad night for a half-hour’s work.
Did this partido molero serve its purpose? Aside from the financial gain, sure, why not? Mexico’s goal for the first half of the year is to qualify for the Olympics. The hopefuls showed enough chemistry to let us think that an Olympic ticket is well within reach.
As long as they do not repeat the mistakes from the last time around: over-extending themselves with too many prep games over a short period of time, coupled with a ridiculous travel schedule. It might also help to not underestimate your opponents. And, at the very least, scout them. Special thanks to Jorge Iturralde, who gave me permission to use his photo.