The Mexico National Team won the game yesterday against Ecuador in Arlington, Texas and lost a major factor for the team in this summer’s FIFA World Cup. With less than two weeks before the games start in Brazil later this month, Mexico’s Luis Montes will miss the tournament after breaking both the fibula and tibia in his right leg.
For most of the first half of the friendly match, Ecuador frustrated Mexico. The Ecuador team attacked the Mexican squad with everything the players could muster. To the relief of Team Mexico, in the 33rd minute of play, El Tri was controlling the ball just outside of the 16-yard box, looking for an opening in the Ecuador defense. After receiving the ball at the top of the box, Montes launched a shot off of the midfielder’s left foot and past the diving goalkeeper from Ecuador. Let the celebration begin.
However, the celebration lasted all of two minutes. In the 35th minute of the game, Montes challenged Ecuador’s Segundo Castillo for a loose ball. The two collided and both players fell to the pitch grabbing their legs. Immediately players on the field were calling for the team trainer to get to the fallen Montes. The Mexican players were standing on the pitch in tears and disbelief and many of the 80,000 fans in attendance fell to silence as the Mexican star lay on the field with a severely broken right leg. Both Montes and Castillo had to leave the game with the injuries suffered from the collision.
Castillo suffered torn ligaments in the midfielder’s right knee and Montes was carried off the field on a stretcher with the severe double break to the right fibula and tibia. Neither player could claim that they won the battle for the ball they were chasing after as both are now lost to their national teams for the World Cup this summer. With the teams having their respective rosters already submitted to FIFA, Mexico and Ecuador will have the option to replace the injured players before the tournament starts in just under two weeks.
After the devastating injury that took Montes out of the line-up, things looked even worse for Mexico for a time. Team captain Rafa Marquez was removed from the field and also sent to the hospital after an apparent foot injury. A fear came over the Mexican fans that the team would head to Brazil for the World Cup without both Montes and Marquez. Luckily for the Mexican national squad, it appears that Marquez will be fine to continue with the team and play this summer.
Mexico was eventually able to gather themselves after the devastating events to the squad earlier in the game. Marco Fabian launched a 30-yard strike at the goal to give the team a 2-0 lead. A third goal came off of a bad clearance from Maximo Banguera, Ecuador’s goalkeeper. Diving to block a shot that sailed just out of reach, the ball hit the upright of the goal and bounced off of the back shoulder and head of Banguera and slowly rolled in for the third goal of the game for Mexico.
Ecuador did find one weakness in the Mexican defense. Throughout the game, when Ecuador would earn a direct free kick, all the players from Mexico were crowding in between the ball and the goal. This gave Ecuador the opportunity to just blast a shot into a crowd of players and hope the ball took a good bounce off of someone. Near the end of the game that is just what happened and Ecuador was able to escape the shutout.
Mexico may have won the game 3-1, however the team knows that they lost a key component from the roster. With Montes now out of the summer’s World Cup, the outlook for the Mexican National Team has just grown dimmer. The team should still have a strong showing in the FIFA tournament, especially if the defense can develop a stronger way to defend against free kicks at the goal.
Commentary by Carl Auer