Jose de Jesus Corona the hero in goal as Mexico edge out Ecuador
Mexico scraped by Ecuador on Saturday night with a narrow 1-0 victory at a sold-out match at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Thanks to a massive performance from goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona -- and a goal from striker Javier Hernandez -- El Tri will start 2015 with a victory in hand.
Despite the win, there are still a few defensive and midfield problems that Mexico manager Miguel "Piojo" Herrera must address before the summer. El Tri will partake in the Gold Cup and Copa America tournaments in just a few months and must fine-tune any mistakes before then.
Player Ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jose de Jesus Corona, 9 -- Mexico's best player of the night. Ecuador tested the Mexican veteran on numerous occasions but the Cruz Azul goalkeeper was a wall for El Tri in the back. His penalty save in the second half solidified his spot as Mexico's best on Saturday night. Corona continues to give Guillermo Ochoa tough competition for Mexico's No. 1 spot in net.
DF Miguel Layun, 6.5 -- Layun had a few good runs with the ball but became less influential as the game progressed. The 26-year-old mustered a shot early on in the game but the opportunity was not his most powerful or accurate attempt. The wing-back is still a guaranteed starter for El Tri, but his below-par performance will give hope to other fringe players looking to gain some minutes in his position.
DF Hector Moreno, 7 -- Decent game for the Espanyol defender. Moreno did well with his distribution going forward and had little trouble stopping the Ecuadorian attack. However, the obvious issue at hand was the poor communication between Moreno and his fellow centre-backs.
DF Diego Reyes, 4 -- Reyes has the ability to become one of Mexico's best defenders but has yet to show it. He looked lost at times in the defensive line and was lucky to not give up a goal. His foul, which lead to Ecuador's penalty in the second-half, was symbolic of the unappealing game he had in Los Angeles.
DF Hugo Ayala, 6 -- Ayala may have been lucky to hide behind the awful performance that Reyes had alongside him. The Tigres defender was too conservative with his passing and was run over by the Ecuador attack throughout the match.
DF Paul Aguilar, 6 -- Little mistakes from the America wingback but not nearly as effective in the attack as he should have been. Mexico's 5-3-2 formation relies on the wing-backs to create chances going forward but Aguilar seldom helped Mexico's offense.
MF Andres Guardado), 8 -- Guardado's excellent form from the Eredivisie has transitioned seamlessly back to the national team. Mexico's captain intercepted the ball, created chances and was a leader on the field. Nearly had an assist late in the game for El Tri.
MF Jose Juan Vazquez, 5 -- Poor night for Vazquez. The Leon midfielder couldn't contain Ecuador and was left chasing the South American opposition. The 26-year-old's lack of possession truly hurt Mexico in the middle of the field.
MF Hector Herrera, 6.5 -- Herrera did a great job of slowing down the pace of the game when he had the ball, but it was still an average showing from one of arguably Mexico's best players. Herrera mistimed a few passes but still had a few moments of creative play going forward.
FW Giovani dos Santos, 6.5 -- It wasn't until late in the first half that Dos Santos began to make an impact on the field. He may have been unlucky to not have an assist with a few of his well-placed through balls, but the Villarreal striker was justifiably expected to have a better performance.
Javier Hernandez, 8 -- Hernandez lost a few balls and missed a couple of chances, but there's no denying how hard he worked against Ecuador. The Real Madrid striker was given a golden opportunity in the first half and secured Mexico's win with a golazo that bounced off the far post and into the net. A commendable appearance for Mexico's most noteworthy player at the moment.
MF Javier Guemez, N/A -- Guemez came on as a substitute for Vazquez in the 73rd minute. The Xolos midfielder had little time with the ball but had a great cross late in the game for El Tri. With Vazquez's underwhelming performance, Guemez now has a big chance for Mexico in the midfield.
FW Raul Jimenez, N/A -- Came on as a substitute for Dos Santos in the 76th minute. Jimenez nearly had a goal during the dying minutes of the match, but his header on net was blocked by Ecuador's goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.
MF Jurgen Damm, N/A -- Came on as a substitute for Herrera in the 84th minute. Saw little of the ball and had no real impact on the game due to his limited time.
FW Eduardo Herrera, N/A -- Literal last minute substitute for Hernandez in injury time.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.