Mexico Vs. Honduras, 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro) Semifinals: El Tri Need To Be Wary Of Counter-Attack

This Gold Cup has made a couple things about Mexico very clear. The first is that they are the best team in CONCACAF. Win the title or not, Mexico are the region's top team and anyone who objectively watches all of the teams in CONCACAF play from match to match with agree. The other is that El Tri are hardly infallible. In fact, they have one big weakness and that is how susceptible they are to the counter-attack at times.

Mexico were so dominant in the group stage that it is tough to imagine the words Mexico and weakness in the same sentence together, but as good as El Tri may be right now, they are not perfect. This is not Spain we are talking about here. This is Mexico and their success with an incredible array of great young talent means that they aren't always the most disciplined at times and can lose shape.

When Mexico does look shape, it usually is evident when teams try to counter-attack against them. Seeing Andres Guardad fly down the left is an amazing site. He's fit and in form, making him incredibly dangerous, but it also requires that someone stay home behind to to cover defensively. Carlos Salcido, for as dazzling as he can be, is in no way a "stay at home" left back. He likes to get forward as well so there is often open space behind them when Mexico attack down the left.

The same is true on the right, although not quite to the same degree. Some teams can get away with such reckless abandon in the attack because they have a central midfielder with incredible range. The United States has this, as do other teams, but Mexico doesn't. Gerardo Torrado is the engine for the Mexico team, but he's not that type of player. Israel Castro is more of that type of player, but he can't cover everywhere.

As a result, Mexico are susceptible to the counter-attack. Get out on the counter against Mexico and you have a chance to do damage. Besides their fullback's tendency to bomb forward and the lack of a defensive midfielder with incredible range, El Tri also don't have the greatest of centerbacks that can snuff out the danger on the counter without a problem.

Once upon a time, Rafa Marquez could do it, but he's aging and he hasn't been healthy all tournament. Hector Moreno was having himself a sensational tournament until his mishap against Guatemala that let Carlos Ruiz score, but he's not an all-world defender.

Point is, get out on the counter and you have your chance against Mexico. They'll give you the opportunities and opponents need to take advantage. Tonight, it is Honduras that will need to take advantage, although getting out on the counter and playing in space isn't their strong suit, they'll have to do it.

Susceptible to the counter-attack or not, Mexico remains the tournament favorites. They still have all the tools to win the tournament and should win the tournament, but there is a chink that could do them in if someone exploits it. Let them fly forward, then hit back quickly. Of course, that's much easier said than done.

For more on Mexican football and the Mexico vs. Honduras match, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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