For Mexico, the defense makes its case

Hector Moreno (pictured) played 56 minutes in Mexico's win over Paraguay in an international friendly on May 28, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo: Mexsport)

ATLANTA – Since Juan Carlos Osorio was handed the head coaching reins last October, Mexico has yet to concede a goal in six matches.

With the Copa America Centenario quickly approaching, the 54-year-old Colombian liked the look of the Tricolor’s 1-0 win over Paraguay in an international friendly at the Georgia Dome on Saturday.

“The first 60 minutes, with the structure that we tried today,” said Osorio. “We controlled the match, most of all in the first half and we dominated it for stretches. After that, in accordance with the medical team, we were cautious with the workload of key players like [defender] Hector Moreno, [midfielder] Andres Guardado and [winger] Jurgen Damm.”

Guardado scored the only goal in the 32nd minute, helping to extend Mexico’s overall unbeaten streak to 18 games, including eight straight wins. Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, making his first national team appearance since the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup final win over Jamaica, recorded the shutout. Osorio was pleased that the South Americans’ opportunities were limited.

“We faced a good opponent and we achieved a deserved result,” expressed the former Sao Paulo manager. “I remember that they tested us with some middle-distance shots that Guillermo Ochoa responded to quite well. It is significant that the team defensively limited an opponent with good forwards to just a few chances.”

Prior to its Copa opener against Uruguay in Chicago on June 5, Mexico will play one more tune-up against defending champion Chile on Wednesday in San Diego, California. Osorio does not expect to make many changes.

“Personally, to me, I liked the team very much,” he finished. “I think we are going to improve, but I don’t believe that there will be any radical changes. I don’t believe so. Football is analyzed from an objective manner. It has to be done like that. Defensively, we limited a team to two or three shots from long distance, an opponent that played with all of its available forwards.

“Offensively, we were restricted with the players we had. Assuredly, when we have a complete team, we are going to improve, have better options. But is it going to change drastically [against Chile]? I don’t think so.”

In the last meeting between them, Mexico and Chile played to a 3-3 draw in last year’s Copa America. Matias Vuoso scored two goals for the CONCACAF power, but is not on the current roster.