Ever since the U17 defeated Italy, the media has been having a field day with comparing the youth to the senior sides. The cartoons flooded social media with jokes about the youth success and the recent slump by the senior side. While it is true that the senior side could take a note or two from the passion of the youngsters, the comparisons, however, are significantly flawed.
As of now, the senior side has reached a major low, and in one week will play New Zealand for a World Cup ticket. But the slump didn’t happen overnight. The senior side had been suffering since the start of the year. Lower tier opposition in the third round of qualification masked this aspect and it was exposed ever since the Jamaica game in Azteca. However, the comparisons are not needed between the teams. The senior side is going to a transition as we speak. The struggles are coming from a result of a shifting of generations, which can hurt any national team.
The U17 deserves all the credit they have accumulated. Their major turn around since the first loss to Nigeria is astounding. Yet, when you look at the senior side, it isn’t black and white. When you have a federation that fails to make changes and then makes changes too rapidly, you get a fiasco. The failure to incorporate several younger players has been felt throughout the Chepo reign, which is where this all began. You can see it with the inclusion of Carlos Peña. He had a few opportunities, but he was cut short anytime he made a mistake which was a result of a growing pain. Now, he has caught a rhythm and has won over the heart of the fans. This too can be seen with Hector Herrera. A guy with a ton of talent who was thrown into games, while Mexico was losing, and expected to be a difference maker.
Now that Piojo has taken over, his controversial decisions have some fans scratching their heads. But if you look closely, he may be preparing Mexico for future success. He has made call-ups of very young, un-tested players, while mixing in a few veterans who are in form. He is experimenting and at the same time adding depth to Mexico, in hopes that it qualifies for Brazil 2014. Moreover, now that Winston Reid (New Zealand’s Captain) will be missing the playoff against Mexico, that hope looks to be even more validated.
When Mexico fixes its slump, the comparisons will be gone. No one was comparing the 2011 senior side to the 2011 U17, simply because there was no need. So comparing the teams now, while one is going through a generation shift and the other is part of a strategic structure…is flawed.