Five possible changes for Mexico vs. Canada

Posted by Tom Marshall

Mexico has reached the tipping point under Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre. Thursday's Gold Cup game against a struggling Canadian side in Seattle is a must-win. Anything else and it is difficult to believe de la Torre will still be in a job come the end of the week. What should have been a formality and a chance to look at a few alternative players is now make or break. Getting the selection right is vital.

El Tri's first-ever loss to Panama brought boos and beer from an initially supportive crowd in the Rose Bowl Sunday and once again emphasized that de la Torre is failing to put together balanced teams or a fully coherent strategy to go out and win.

Changes will be against required Canada. Here are five to consider:

More attack-minded midfield -- If you’re going to go out, it might as well be in a blaze of glory. At least that is what some people think, although you’d have to believe Chepo isn’t one of them considering some of his recent tactical decisions -- not least waiting until the 88th minute to throw on Raul Jimenez for Gerardo Torrado while 1-0 down against Brazil in the Confederations Cup.

-Canales: Mexico, Canada both after a result

But against a Canada side likely to shut up shop as best it can and try to replicate the clean sheets Jamaica, the United States and Costa Rica have managed this year against El Tri, the emphasis should be on overpowering an opposition that Mexico shouldn’t need two holding midfielders to keep at bay.

Ironically, the Mexican soccer federation mistakenly named a starting XI for last Sunday’s game that included striker Javier “Chuletita” Orozco in place of defensive midfielder Alejandro Castro. Social networks briefly caught fire with the news, with pundits and fans alike chiming in; the overall vibe was positive. Chepo seemed to be trying something vastly different and going for the jugular. Then an updated team came through and Castro, Efrain Velarde and Jorge Enriquez all played central midfield. Not one of them is really considered an offensive player.

Enriquez and Carlos Pena would be the most exciting choices, although Luis Montes is another option.

Width -- The Mexican side looked narrow against Panama. Jimenez wasn’t comfortable on the wing. Chepo brought on U.S.-born Isaac Brizuela and cap-tied him to Mexico in the Panama game. He is coming off a quality season for Atlas and is a real winger who is fast, can take on players and can cross. The 22-year-old should start on the right wing, especially in the knowledge that the position is wide open.

Marco Fabian -- who can cut in from the left -- then makes more sense on the opposite flank and the option of swapping the duo during the game becomes a possibility.

Two strikers -- Jimenez and Rafa Marquez Lugo score goals and with the intelligence both possess, there is no reason to think they can’t work well in tandem as center forwards. Both can drop off deep when required and are equally adept at assisting as finishing.

4-4-2 -- The natural conclusion from the above three points is to play a standard 4-4-2, with both central midfielders capable of covering ground, two attacking wingers and a pair of central strikers. The 4-3-3 Chepo tried for the majority of the game against Panama could well work at full national-team level, but the players at the Gold Cup don’t seem to fit it.

Central defenders -- Both Joel Huiqui and Jair Pereira are quality Liga MX players, but both Mexican center backs looked slow against Panama. The decision to pick both really strikes at the heart of Chepo’s sometimes difficult-to-comprehend thinking. Wouldn’t it be better to throw in players who haven’t peaked, need the experience and could be used in the future? Would anybody be happy with this partnership at the World Cup if injuries did strike?

The additional problem here is that substitutes Juan Carlos Valenzuela and Leo Lopez are hardly inspiring either, and the sensible thing may be to stick with a central defensive partnership that has at least played together.

Team based on changes: (4-4-2) Jonathan Orozco, Israel Jimenez, Huiqui, Pereira, Adrian Aldrete, Brizuela, Pena, Enriquez, Fabian, Jimenez, Marquez Lugo.

Follow Tom on Twitter @MexicoWorldCup

ESPN Conversations