1. Triumph of the TInkerman
The predilection of Juan Carlos Osorio to adjust his lineup and tactics from match to match has beena source of both confidence and consternation in the Mexican fan base. Some might be troubled by his peculiar formations that excludes proven talent. Others point to his adaptability and willingness to approach each match with an open mind. There is a case to be made for each, but one side is definitely building a stronger case.
Mexico played an absolute beauty of an opening half in their match with Uruguay. Both the game plan and execution worked to perfection. Uruguay looked to be a team out of sorts and completely overmatched. Despite their faults and current roster form, this is still a team that should advancing to the late stages of this tournament. What Mexico did to this talented Uruguayan team should not be underestimated. However you would like to articulate the formation Mexico played with ( a 3-1-3-3 perhaps?) it worked. Osorio's use of the three man back line and the three man attack in front had Uruguay looking helpless. Mexico dominated that first half not by way of an early goal or a fervent crowd, but by their play. This was master brush strokes on a canvas. It was breathtaking in its efficiency and beauty.
For Osorio to get a national team to play in this mode with such little training time is impressive. Tinker away, Osorio.
2. Reyes Rising
Much was made of the play on the wings from Mexico - and rightly so. Javier Aquino had an excellent performance as did his counterpart, Jesus 'Tecatito' Corona. Both wingers kept Uruguay under constant threat. Hirving Lozano, who came on in the 2nd half, picked up right where Aquino left off.
Man of the match, Rafa Marquez also had himself a night. The 37 year old apparently has no age restrictions on putting in incredible performances for Mexico. Several keys stops and of course the key goal for Mexico ensured Marquez would be the major take-away from the match.
However, the match narrative would be lacking without a mention of the play of Diego Reyes. Slotted in to the defensive midfield spot in front of the back three, Reyes had a major role to execute. He covered plenty of ground and worked as a conduit between the defense and midfield. Sometimes sliding back in to the backline and occasionally pushing forward, Reyes had a solid game in an important position. He was by no means the man of the match, but he may have just been the most important player for Mexico. Osorio needed a strong showing from Reyes in this match to make his plan work; He more than got it.
3. Second Half Swoon
When the teams came out for the second half of action, Mexico had to be feeling great. Up a goal and their opposition playing with 10 could provide some peace of mind. Mexico played like things were secure after halftime as well. Uruguay came out with a newfound spark they were lacking in the opening 45.
There are a few ways to look at this. On the one hand, Uruguay was desperate and had finally begun to play in a manner reflecting this. They pushed with crazy energy and forced Mexico into some sloppy play. Mexico struggled to get out of their own half under the pressing of the Uruguayan midfield. Uruguay had to find a way to get back in to the match fast, and that is just what they did.
On the other hand, there is little excuse for being thoroughly outplayed while having a man advantage. Mexico was outhustled in those opening twenty minutes of the second half. They were beaten to nearly every ball by an Uruguayan team with newfound vigor.
It paid off when Andres Guardado received his second yellow and Uruguay got their equalizer. Luckily, for Mexico this appeared to have shaken the funk off. With the score and sides again level, Mexico returned to their solid and confident play. No matter how you look at that scary spell for Mexico, their regaining control was clearly impressive.
It's also worth pointing out that Mexico prevailed in a match when their two best players, Andres Guardado and Chicharito Hernandez, had subpar performances. It wasn't always pretty, but when it was ... whew, it was.