What can El Tri learn vs. Guyana? 

October, 11, 2012

What could Mexico possibly have to gain from a pair of meaningless matches (versus Guyana and El Salvador) contested in front of friendly crowds, playing with what amounts to a B-team despite the possible inclusion of a number of regulars?

Not much, perhaps. The risks certainly outweigh the potential benefits: Chicharito could get hurt; the team could fail to show well and bring unnecessary scorn on its players or coach; and, with little to play for, Mexico could even drop points.

Plus, El Tri seems to have lost an opportunity -- not economic, but sporting -- when the Guyana match was shifted to Houston. Moving the match to the U.S. eliminated the chance to play on the road, on a questionable pitch and in somewhat hostile territory against a desperate team -- a situation they'll face frequently in next year's hexagonal.

Instead, the game will be played in front of friendly fans, in a relaxed atmosphere at BBVA Compass Stadium. It's an environment all too similar to a low-level friendly, and likely won't bring the highest competitive spirit out of El Tri.

Within a few weeks, though, all will be forgotten -- except the impression role players can make on Chepo de la Torre in their opportunity to shine for the team.

So what's at stake in Mexico's matches against Guyana and El Salvador? For the most part, opportunities for certain players to seize their chance to be a permanent part of El Tri next year, when the games will again have plenty of meaning.

With that in mind, here's a look at individuals and positional pairings with the most on the line in the next two matches.

Will the Hernandez-Peralta pairing work?

With attacking options like Gio Dos Santos and Marco Fabian unavailable, De la Torre is likely to give the forward tandem of Javier Hernandez and Oribe Peralta another chance to jell. Though they are two of the most prolific Mexican strikers in recent years, as a duo the pair have been unable to find chemistry on the field in recent qualifiers.

Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for ESPN.com. Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.

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