Mexico vs Ecuador
May 31 | 3 pm ET | AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TV: ESPNEWS, UniMas
More than 80,000 people are expected to watch this one, the first of Mexico's three friendlies in los Estados Unidos in preparation for the World Cup. Ecuador's supporters will definitely be in the minority, but their side is better than the uninformed might know, blessed with speed, power, and a relatively easy draw in Group E.
What to Watch For:
NOW OR NEVER FOR GIO: Star Giovani dos Santos missed the game on Wednesday, but we already know he’s in the starting lineup for this one. Why? Because unlike many other managers, "Pioja" Herrera doesn’t play games with his lineups: He announced his starting XI on twitter on Friday.
La alineación para el juego de mañana es: Ochoa, Rafa, Maza, Moreno, Guardado, Paul, Herrera, Peña, Montes, Gio y Oribe. #VamosMexico— Miguel Herrera (@MiguelHerreraDT) May 30, 2014
Many pundits feel dos Santos is in a battle with "Chicharito" for that second starting forward position. A good performance and a goal or two against the Ecuadorans would help his cause — especially given Miguel Layun’s good showing in midweek.
HOLA, GUARDADO: Andres Guardado is one of the most experienced Mexican internationals ever. Yet, like a few of the European-based players that Herrera seems to be wary of, he's not assured of a starting role this time around. If he's going to be in the XI when Mexico open up against Cameroon on June 11, he needs to start making his case now.
MANCHESTER CITY FLOP. SO WHAT? Everyone knows about Manchester United star Antonio Valencia, but Ecuador's World Cup fate might hinge on onetime Man. City washout Felipe Caicedo. He actually did well for the Blues at first, but then fell out of favor. He now plays in the UAE, and this World Cup is the 25-year-old's chance at revenge, of a sort. He's got the kind of pace and strength to test Mexico's three-man backline.
The Star You Know
Rafa Marquez, center back, Mexico: Love him or hate him, the Mexican veteran is the central node of Herrera's three-man backline. They'll be tested by the swift, powerful Ecuadoran attack.
The Player to Surprise You
Enner Valencia, forward, Ecuador: You might not know him, but the Mexican team sure does: He won the Liga MX Golden Boot last season with 18 goals for Pachuca.