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Scouting Mexico: U.S. Assistant Curt Onalfo

U.S. Assistant Coach Curt Onalfo played two years in Mexico as part of a nine-year professional career, which included a championship with D.C. United in 1999.  Here, Onalfo breaks down a young, motivated, and well-balanced Mexican side ....

Not a whole lot of motivation needed for this game!  These are two teams that know each very well, and can’t wait to step on the field tonight. 

Mexico are in their second year under Argentina-born coach Ricardo LaVolpe, who has been pushing the team into an aggressive attacking style.  Typically playing out of a 
a 3-5-2 formation, they are a team that insists on building possession out of the back, playing a rhythmic, short-passing game.  They like to send lots of numbers forwards, with as many as seven or eight players joining in the attack. 

The Mexican players are very gifted technically, and can move the ball well with either combination play or changing the point of attack.  Their offense is very well balanced, mixing up services into the box from wide positions, playing through the middle and shooting from distance. Traditionally not a particularly tall or athletic group, the common theme throughout their strategy is consistent possession of the ball.

LaVolpe has integrated several new younger players into the squad.  On the right side, Diego Martinez, who is 6'1", athletic and can get up and down the field, has the ability to send in great crosses and is always a threat to receive balls at the back post.  Luis Ernesto Perez, who is probably their most skillful player, is very crafty, likes to take players on one v. one and slip penetrating passes into the frontrunners.  On the left flank, Mario Perez, who is a very attack-minded left-footed player, likes to run at defenders and provides good service from the left flank.

In terms of veteran leadership, the Tricolores remain well stocked.  Oswaldo Sanchez has proven himself as the best goalkeeper for Mexico by far.  He's a great shotblocker, and owns the area in the box in front of him.  He’s coming off an outstanding performance against Costa Rica, making three or four crucial saves.  At the other end, striker Jared Borgetti is consistently one of the leading scorers in the Mexican League, now in third place in the Torneo Clausura with 11 goals.  Dangerous in the air, he is a target forward with a keen ability to get on the end of crosses.  Certainly one of the key elements to the game will be to prevent him from getting on the end of services from the flank.

More than anything, a U.S. - Mexico game is always a great soccer atmosphere.  We had a wonderful experience in Houston last year, with a spirited and respectful crowd, and we are looking forward to a similar night in Dallas.  Even though it feels like a home game for Mexico at times, it's a valuable opportunity for our players to experience the atmosphere, intensity, and pressure that is associated with games of a high magnitude.  If you're a supporter or a soccer fan, this game is a must see.