Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City was rocking to a decidedly Latin beat when Mexico squared off with Paraguay in a neutral-ground friendly on Tuesday night. Mexico put their foot on Paraguay's throats almost right off the bat, and kept it there despite their opponent's rather strong struggles as they won 1-0 in a hard-fought match.
Mexico came screaming out of the gate, pushing hard and earning an early set piece that netted them an early goal. Eduardo Herrera -- making his senior international debut -- was able to beat a Panama defense that's normally stout defending set pieces and slotted the ball home. Paraguay were visibly upset at their failing, and it wasn't long before the chippy play set in.
By the end of the half, both sides had earned a handful of half-chances, but more notable was the four yellow cards that Paraguay players had picked up thanks to a large number of rash, hard fouls on Mexican players. In fact, Paraguay were lucky to still have eleven men on the pitch. A couple of their bookings could have seen red instead if the day's referee had been in a less charitable mood.
For all their aggression, Paraguay struggled to get shots on target. Outside of a shot around the hour mark from Lucas Barrios that forced an excellent save from Mexican goalkeeper Edgar Hernández, their best chance was a headed strike off the crossbar just before the halftime whistle sounded. Paraguay really struggled against what was mostly a second-unit Mexican side, and Ramon Diaz has plenty to worry about with what he saw.
It was Mexico coming closest to scoring for much of the second half, especially once the ever-energetic Javier Hernandez subbed in to the match. With Mexico's beloved Chicharito running around the top of their attack trying to find space and disrupt Paraguay's defense, the extra attention created other chances for his teammates to add to Mexico's lead, especially after Giovani dos Santos came on late in the match.
When the final whistle blew, neither team wound up able to break the second-half deadlock. As they had all match long, Mexico commanded the run of play, but both defenses held firm. Miguel Herrera will be pleased at how the players who don't normally start perform, especially with a packed summer of competitive matches coming up (Mexico are playing in both the Copa America and Gold Cup). This match probably went a long ways towards helping him figure out how he wants to set his squads for those competitions, and fans of El Tri look set for some high-quality entertainment this summer.
Mexico: Edgar Hernández; Diego Reyes, Julio Domínguez (Hugo Ayala 79'), Oswaldo Alanís; Jesus Dueñas, Jonathan dos Santos (Paul Aguilar 78'), Javier Güemez, Juan Carlos Medina (Jose Vasquez 86'), Jorge Torres (Adrian Aldrete 59'); Eduardo Herrera (Javier Hernandez 59'), Raul Jiménez (Giovani dos Santos 78')
Goals: Herrera (3')
Paraguay: Justo Villar (Antony Silva 30'); Paulo Da Silva, Pablo Aguilar (Marco Caceres 65'), Fabian Balbuena; Jorge Moreira (Jorge Rojas 80'), Richard Ortiz, Óscar Romero (Osvaldo Martinez 46'), Fidencio Oviedo, Ivan Piris (Miguel Samudio 46'); Lucas Barrios, Raul Bobadilla (Hernan Perez 62')