Category Archives: Qualifiers

Mexico’s 2013 has no bearing on 2014

Marquez is ready to Captain Mexico through 2014 (AP)

 

2013 was a very disappointing year for El Tri. World Cup qualification was nerve wracking, the Confederations Cup was a bust, and the Gold Cup was all but glorious. However, none of that matters now that it is 2014. It is the year of the World Cup, and right now, Mexico is one of the 32 teams heading to Brazil. With new management and a new vision in place, Mexico has nothing to do but look ahead.

Success outweighs failure since 2010

It is not hard to look at 2013 a feel a bit uncomfortable about the upcoming World Cup. With a very favorable schedule to qualify, Mexico did anything but look solid. Yet, many are forgetting what Mexico has accomplished since the last World Cup. The 2011 Gold Cup was a terrific accomplishment, beating the USA 4-2 after being down 0-2 early in the game. Later that year Mexico would reach 9 in FIFA rankings, and finished the year with only one loss. In 2012, more accomplishments came El Tri’s way. The Gold medal win over Brazil was monumental. It was a victory on foreign territory, with a full Liga MX line up, not to mention against a stacked Brazilian opponent. It just so happens that a lack of leadership and organization plagued Mexico in 2013. But that is over. There is a new leadership, and over the past 3+ years, Mexico can feel confident that their talent will be there in the big games.

5 months to organize 

There will be a slew of friendlies for Mexico before the World Cup, which means Herrera and crew has a lot of time to tweak the roster. With momentum finally catching up with El Tri, the confidence has slowly started to restore itself. Moreover, with the weight of qualification is off of the squads shoulders, all that is left is to play their game. The pressure is off, but there is work to do..and the team knows that.

Revived core

The year started off very ugly, but it did end on a bit of a positive note. As I mentioned in a previous article, guys like Peña are making the roster easier to select. With an increased work rate and understanding of the game, Mexico is little by little removing those question marks on the starting XI. Now, include the Euro’s and top-caliber of Liga MX, and El Tri could very easily have a depth that we haven’t seen since 2011. It is no longer “who has experience” but “who is performing” which is a refreshing take with this Mexico side.

Mexico’s first test is against South Korea on January 29th (Alamodome).

Vamos México!

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Question Marks and Positives for 2014

After a sloppy 2013, Mexico wants nothing more than to silence the critics in 2014 (Reuters)

 

It feels like it was only a year ago that Mexico landed in South Africa to kick off the 2010 World Cup. However, by summertime, Mexico will be in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. After a shaky 2013, Mexico needs to really shake off the dust and understand the worst is behind them. With that said, here are the major question marks and positives heading into 2014 for El Tri.

Question Mark I: Will the Euro’s finally gel?

One of the most haunting aspects of the 2013 year was the total drop-off in chemistry with the Euro’s and domestic players. In 2011-12, the team had some hiccups, but for the most part did the job. There was little doubt with who lead the team, but as soon as 2013 arrived, things went haywire. The chemistry was way off, communication lacked, and Mexico never got a hold of the Hex. Even when the team needed the big name players to step up…it was usually the domestic players who put the team on their back. Now that Mexico has new direction, we will have to wait and see if they can once and for all find that form which helped claimed silverware in 2011-12.

Positive I: Winning the playoff will cause a healthy competition for spots

Miguel Herrera took a full Liga MX team to play New Zealand for the 2014 Intercontinental playoff. The choice was risky, but in the end was successful. Mexico’s domestic players didn’t crumble under pressure, and for once looked like a Mexico who was having fun. Now, the bigger stars for Mexico who were not called will have to step their game up in 2014. Because Mexico booked its 2014 ticket without them.

Question Mark II: Oribe+Raúl? Oribe+Chicharito? One striker?

Mexico scored a minimum of 4 goals in each game in November. There were some bumps with the defense, but scoring was not one of them. Raúl Jiménez and Peralta were a successful pair in the new-look Mexico. Which begs the question…what will happen when Chicharito returns? If Hernández catches fire, does Raúl sit? Or does Chicharito come off the bench as a super-sub? All these factors can be good problems to have…but also could be a headache if not sorted out.

Positive II: The midfield is no longer a weakness

Throughout the Hex and Confederations Cup, Mexico’s midfield was a mess. Several rotations made its way around, but nothing was successful. However, Herrera adding guys like Montes and Peña to the starting XI became a blessing. They continued their roll from Club to Country, and the youth aspect has been a sight for sore eyes. Gone are the days when Mexico called up “vets” in hopes that they would carry form which they once had in World Cup pasts.

Question Mark III: Will the Vela saga end? 

From a spectators point of view, there is no reason why Vela has not put on La Verde since 2011. Yet, we do not know what really is going on between Carlos and the FMF. Giovani has backed Vela’s choice to decline the call-ups, and blasted the federation. He would also then say that his return to El Tri would be welcomed. Herrera also added that he would search out Vela if he stays manager for 2014. All are positive signs, but there is still no guarantee that Vela is going to be headed to Brazil 2014. The drama which started early in 2012 could very well be around by June 2014…which helps no one.

Positive III: Plenty of time to add new names

It might not seem like there is a lot of time till the 2014 World Cup, but there are many warmups ahead. This is a perfect time to throw some young blood onto the proving ground. When spots are on the line for the World Cup, players will do everything they can to get noticed. We could see the likes of Alan Pulido, Ulises Dávila, Tecatito Corona in 2014. We saw new guys like Escoboza step up when the time was right, so there is no reason to give some others a major shot to impress. This in turn creates passion, motivation, and thins out who really deserves to be in Brazil.

Mexico has a long road ahead until June, but there is no time to waste. El Tri has plenty of problems to sort out, but also has hope while looking forward to the World Cup. When the odds were against them, Mexico still survived. A solid run in Brazil will wash away the sins from 2013.

Mexico opens up the road to Brazil on January 29, 2014 against the Korea Republic (San Antonio).

Vamos México!

Mexico 5, New Zealand 1: Beyond comfortable

Jiménez scored the second goal for Mexico (Selección Nacional de Mexico)

 

This was it.

Mexico was down to its last hope to qualify for the FIFA 2014 World Cup.

Mexico hosted New Zealand, who would be El Tri’s rival for this two-legged playoff. The game had a lot of tension before kickoff due to a lot of questions…

Is Piojo too bull-headed to lead Mexico? Can Mexico gel against a taller, more physical team? Can Mexico break the bunker?

After 31 minutes and several close attempts…its was Paul Aguilar who netted a goal to lift El Tri. Mexico’s possession and passing after the goal became much more rhythmic. Just eight minutes later, Raul Jiménez headed a goal off an corner and assist from Peña.

Mexico went into the half with their heads held high, but knew the game was far from over. May pundits claimed that Mexico needed at least two goals to make sure they can play with some confidence in New Zealand. Well, after two minutes into the half, Rafa passed a beauty to Layún, then Layún gave a nice assist to Peralta. Mexico was sitting with a nice 3 goal lead.

Mexico went fairly slow after the third goal, and the possession then shifted towards New Zealand. The pressure was on the Kiwi’s and Mexico needed capitalize.

Oribe once again headed a goal from a Layún cross. 4-0 was the lead that the Azteca craved. It was a lead that had been missing for ages with this Mexican side.

But it wasn’t over as Rafa, the skipper, headed another in the 83rd minute off a corner. New Zealand knew it was over, but a consolation goal was scored in the 84th minute by Christian James.

Nevertheless, the goal from New Zealand didn’t do much as Mexico was locked in for a comfortable trip to New Zealand.

On a last note, New Zealand will lose key players for the last match; Chris Wood, Vicelich, and Andrew Durante.

Final stats:

  • Possession: 73% Mexico, 27% New Zealand
  • Shots: 21 (10) Mexico, 3 (0) New Zealand
  • Corner kicks: 6 Mexico, 1 New Zealand
  • Fouls: 5 Mexico, 11 New Zealand
  • Yellow cards: 0 Mexico, 5 New Zealand

Vamos México!

Youth vs Senior: Flawed comparisons

Herrera has made several major decisions over the past few weeks in hopes to change the path of El Tri (Getty)

 

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.

Quick El Tri Headlines: November 6, 2013

Marco Granados put in the third goal for Mexico to secure a spot into the final (Photo: AP)

 

  • Hugo Ayala has been called to replace Hiram Mier. Mier has a knee injury and will be out of action for 5-7 months.
  • Jonathan dos Santos has started path to recovery after injuring knee. He too will be out 5-7 months.
  • Piojo Herrera has made it official that he will stick will a purely Liga MX side against New Zealand. Mexico plays New Zealand on November 13th in Estadio Azteca.
  • Mexico’s U17 continues to shine. After being drubbed in their first match against Nigeria, the youngsters have gone undefeated. In the knockout rounds they defeated Italy, Brazil (on penalties), and routed Argentina, 3-0. Mexico is fortunate to not accumulate any injuries as the Argentinians played very physical, even receiving two red cards in the match.
  • Mexico will try to exact revenge on Nigeria in the U17 World Cup final on Friday.

Vamos México!

Quick El Tri Headlines and Finland call-ups: October 21, 2013

Miguel ‘Piojo’ Herrera became Mexico’s 4th manager of 2013 over the weekend (Getty)

 

  • Víctor Manuel Vucetich was fired as Mexican manager over the weekend. After two games, Victor lead Mexico to a 1-1 record.
  • In place of Vucetich, Miguel ‘Piojo’ Herrera (of Club América) will step in temporarily. He does not have an official contract, and the FMF will evaluate whether to keep Herrera or not after the next three games (one friendly, two WC playoff).
  • Mexico’s U17 had a horrendous start to the 2013 U17 World Cup in UAE. They lost their first match to Nigeria, 1-6. The other game in the group, between Sweden and Iraq, ended in a 4-1 win for Sweden. The next games will be on October 22nd: Mexico vs Iraq, Nigeria vs Sweden.
  • Mexico’s next game will be against Finland at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego (October 30th). Here are Herrera’s call-ups:

Goalkeepers: Corona, Muñoz

Defenders: Rafael Márquez, Maza Rodríguez, Paul Aguilar, Adrián Aldrete, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Hiram Mier, Layún, Edwin Hernández, Miguel Ángel Herrera

Midfielders: Carlos Peña, Jesús Molina, Luis Montes, Juan Carlos Medina, Alonso Escoboza, Lucas Lobos, Luis ‘Quick’ Mendoza, Rodrigo Salinas

Forwards: Raúl Jiménez, Aldo de Nigris, Oribe Peralta

Mexico’s hopes are alive…barely

A goal from Graham Zusi is stoppage time equalized the game for the USA and keeping Mexico alive in WCQ. (Photo credit: Kyle Rivas)

 

Mexico lost to Costa Rica 1-2 on the road today. Bryan Ruiz gave Los Ticos the lead in the 24th minute. Just before his goal, Mexico scored but was called offside. Replays show that the ball did not touch the offside player. El Tri did respond with a goal from Oribe Peralta in the 26th minute. Mexico couldn’t find any touch or real rhythm after that. Costa Rica took advantage of a counter and Saborio headed one in past Ochoa in the second half.

The game would remain 1-2 and Mexico looked to be out of the World Cup. However, the United States kept Mexico alive by scoring two goals and sinking Panama in stoppage time. With this news Mexico has claimed the fourth spot in CONACACF WCQ, and will play New Zealand in a two-legged playoff.

Mexico last played New Zealand in 2011, winning comfortably 3-0. Mexico will have a major upside to the playoff, because New Zealand will come to Mexico first. This means Mexico has to take care of business at home first. Rumors have it that Mexico will play at Toluca at high-noon in order to take advantage of a major altitude factor.

Mexico has a friendly coming up on October 30th against Finland. It could be possible that Mexico will have another friendly to prepare for the World Cup playoff.