What's Wrong with the Mexican National Soccer Team?
With a World Cup qualifier against the United States looming in November, we take a look at what ails El Tri.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Mexico fans aren't happy.
Following the upsetting 7-0 loss to Chile in the quarterfinals of June's Copa America Centenario, El Tri supporters have been desperate for confident victories that would provide much-needed solace.
Manager Juan Carlos Osorio helped ease some worries after a 3-1 World Cup qualifying win against El Salvador on September 6th, but took two steps back with an ensuing 0-0 draw at home against Honduras four days later. Despite the fact that Mexico strolled into the final round of World Cup qualifying, the tie left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of El Tri supporters who see Mexico as the kings of CONCACAF.
What's wrong with El Tri? Better yet, is there anything wrong in the first place?
Let's first discuss an obvious problem that had a massive influence in recent matches: injuries. Five first team players were injured and therefore missing from the match against El Salvador: Javier Hernandez, Jesus "Tecatito" Corona, Paul Aguilar, Oribe Peralta, and Nestor Araujo.
To make matters worse, a knock to striker Raul Jimenez left Mexico with six important first team players injured before the following game against Honduras. Considering the damage, and the fact that El Tri had already clinched a spot in the final round of qualifying before the two previous matches, a 3-1 win and 0-0 draw might not be considered bad results.
However, this brings up another point: If a spot in the final round of qualifying was already set, how motivated were the big name players for these matches? For example, if you're Andres Guardado or Hector Herrera, why would you care about two matches that were essentially glorified friendlies?
Guardado and Herrera both recently started their seasons in Europe with well-respected clubs and have Champions League soccer just around the corner. For club soccer, there is no bigger stage than the Champions League, and a player like Guardado might have not played at his best in order to avoid a potential injury. The same could be said for other European-based players who will take part in the competition like Herrera, Hector Moreno, and Miguel Layun.
And yet, El Tri's injuries or their players' motivation may not be the biggest concern. Mexico has been undone by the lack of coaching stability. Numerous fans have already called for Osorio's firing, and he's been in charge for only 11 months, and has lost only one game during that run. It wouldn't be out of the ordinary, however, for the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) to make such a strange decision.
Osorio is the sixth different manager Mexico has had since 2013. To quote the great Claudio Suarez, who has more international caps than any other player from El Tri: "Processes are cut short, coaches are changed, there is no playing philosophy for the Mexico national team. As the player with the most games for the team, I never knew how we were going to play!"
If Mexico has been able to regularly qualify for World Cups while switching through 13 different coaches since 2002, why would the federation feel compelled to change their methods? As a result, expectations are always high for the managers. As for Osorio, he is just one loss or bad result away from adding a 14th name to the list of recent coaches.
So, is there something wrong with El Tri? Should Mexico fans be worried? It all depends on your expectations.
If you have no problem with the carousel of different managers that El Tri goes through and are happy with just qualifying for the World Cup, everything's just fine. Injuries and low motivation can be fixed, and no matter who is in charge, Mexico currently has a good chance of qualifying for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
However, if you want El Tri to have a more concrete futbol philosophy and character that could help push the team beyond a Round of 16 finish in the World Cup, you should be worried about Mexico's fickle attitude toward coaches. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if Osorio's inevitable replacement, and that replacement's replacement, were fired before 2018.
The FMF's current position on constantly changing managers is one of the bigger problems facing El Tri. Unfortunately, as seen during recent years, this stance is unlikely to change.
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