With Honduras missing almost all of their big stars, Mexico were favorites to win their Gold Cup semifinal matchup without much issue. When the likes of Maynor Figueroa, David Suazo, Emilio Izaguirre and Wilson Palacios are healthy, Honduras can challenge anyone in the world. With all four of those players out, they were left with questionable talent. Because of the large talent gap between Mexico's best and Honduras's reserves, Los Catrachos decided that the best strategy was to make the game a dirty one.
Mexico eventually pulled out the victory in extra time, but they were made to work extremely hard to get that result. There's no doubt that 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre would like to avoid a repeat and win the final in regular time. How does El Tri avoid the mistakes that plagued them against Honduras when they take on the United States? Eben Lehman of SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind has some ideas, mostly centered around the positioning of Giovani dos Santos.
Adding to the trouble was the position of Giovani Dos Santos far up the field. Dos Santos spent much of the game alongside (and sometimes even in front) of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. This gave Mexico a second striker, but left them with a numerical disadvantage in the midfield. The strength of Dos Santos is as a creator, a playmaker. His best position is slightly behind Chicharito, at the center of the band of three attacking midfielders -- with Guardado to his left and Barrera to his right. Having Dos Santos up front alongside Chicharito neutralizes much of his skill set.
The separation of dos Santos from the central midfielders, Israel Castro and Gerardo Torrado, was a big problem for Mexico in the semifinal, and they will need to correct that against the United States. The USMNT did a great job in their first Gold Cup game of isolating Dwayne De Rosario and keeping him from linking up with Canada's central midfielders, so we could be in for a fantastic midfield battle on Saturday.
For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.