Tag Archives: CONCACAF

Failure at the CWC shows there’s a menality problem in the Liga MX

Auckland City FC outlasted Cruz Azul at the 2014 CWC (Reuters)

There are teams that you should just not lose to, and Cruz Azul managed to do just that this year at the Club World Cup, when they lost to Auckland City from New Zealand. Now, this isn’t an article to bash Cruz Azul, but to address a problem that has been prevalent in the Liga MX. From the fans, to coaches, to the ownership, the obsession with solely wining the league title and not taking international tournaments is seriously is a definite red flag.

It wasn’t the first time an “on paper” stronger Mexican side had lost in a game it should have been able to win. Tigres did this at the 2012-13′ CONCACAF Champions League, when Tuca sent out a reserve squad that fell, 1-3, to the Seattle Sounders. Tigres had gone into the game with a one goal aggregate lead to add. Had it been a Liguilla game, there is no doubt that Tuca Ferreti sends out his strongest side.

Yet, the unfortunate list goes on; América was eliminated by Alajuelense in the 2013-14′ CCL, Chivas was eliminated by Xelaú in the 2012-13′ CCL, Cruz Azul was eliminated by Alajuelense this year in the CCL, so on and so forth.

When Cruz Azul headed to the Club World Cup, they weren’t a favorite to win. Of course, Real Madrid is virtually unbeatable, so the 0-4 loss was not a disappointment. However, the loss to Auckland was a major let down, especially since New Zealand has no where near the league Mexico has. This should have been an easy win, but at the end, Liga MX walks away looking weaker, not stronger.

The CCL, Club World Cup, Copa Libertadores are all very important tournaments for Mexico. When Monterrey placed 3rd at the 2012 CWC, it helped promote the talent of Tecatito Corona. His play caught the eye of many at the tournament, and now he is having phenomenal year with FC Twente in the Eredivisie.

I support Club América, but I want all Liga MX teams to succeed outside the league play. If Cruz Azul or Club León are playing an international match, I’m Liga MX all the way. I really believe this is how it should be. In 2013, Chivas and Club América had an exhibition in Las Vegas and fans erupted in a massive brawl. Many were left bloodied and bruised, something you never want to see at a football match. Especially against your fellow Mexican fans. Fans you cheer with every Gold Cup, Copa América, World Cup…even friendlies!

A brawl between Chivas and Club América fans during a friendly in 2013 was a major black eye for the league (AP)

I understand the desire to be Liga MX champions is huge in Mexican football culture, but there needs to be more pressure on representing on a national level. The better the Mexican teams do in these tournaments, the better Mexico looks. And yes, a Liga MX team has won the CCL year after year, but many of the Liga MX teams have not shown up, as mentioned earlier.

The league needs to take every chance at success in tournaments outside Mexico, as well as exposing the talent of the league…because it is there.

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Reflecting back on El Tri’s World Cup

Rafa’s goal against Croatia gave Mexico energy which Croatia could not match (Getty)

The process to the 2014 World Cup was rocky for Mexico, and many believed that Mexico’s reign in the CONCACAF was all but over. This lead to several coaching changes, until Miguel Herrera was signed for the World Cup playoff against New Zealand.

From then on, Mexico began to build up confidence as a team. However, many still believed that the group Mexico was in for the World Cup was just too powerful for this once shattered group of players.

Cameroon had a deadly counter, and Mexico had struggled with South Africa in 2010. Brazil, the obvious, was the host and nearly unbeatable at home. Lastly, Croatia was a young European team with an XI filled with European club stars.

Mexico really was a question mark heading into Brazil, but they came out on June 13th, and showed that they weren’t there by accident. Herrera sent out an El Tri which knew exactly what they wanted to do. They controlled the game against Cameroon, and even when the officiating ripped Mexico off with two incorrect offside calls, Oribe Peralta put Mexico on top. The 1-0 victory over Cameroon gave Mexico the breathe of fresh air they needed, because Brazil was no push over.

Mexico’s game against Brazil would be known as one of the best goalkeeping performances in a World Cup. The controversy over who would be keeper for the World Cup quickly died when Guillermo Ochoa stopped Brazil’s powerful attack. However, Mexico did not lay down for Brazil. They continued to attack, and Herrera sent in attacking subs to try to win the game, but the 0-0 draw was a shocker in group play…and Mexico was just fine with that.

The final match against Croatia was the due or die match of the group. What made matters more interesting for this match was Croatia’s unusual comments about Mexico’s comments heading into the match. The claimed they were better, that Mexico’s knees would be shaking and that Ochoa isn’t the best opponent Mandzukic has faced.

The words were not enough to scare off El Tri. What transpired was one of Mexico’s best World Cup games in recent memory. Not just because they won, but in the fashion they won. They controlled the game, cut out attacks and showed they were the better team…and with patience, the goals arrived.

Looking back at the cup, Mexico appeared to be a real unified team. In 2010, there were players who stood out, and some who faded. But in 2014, this team sang the anthem with their arms on each others shoulders, they played with passion and laid it all on the field. Mexico was not able to reach the 5th game which we all craved, but they also didn’t lose in a dismantled manner. They were never blown out, they didn’t crumble, but sometimes (major) calls don’t go your way.

Looking forward, Mexico fans will see that they have a ton of talent coming up the ranks. With the obvious Chicharito, dos Santos, Ochoa, guardado etc. Vázquez hadn’t even played 5 games with Mexico, but started and didn’t disappoint. His passing percentages were mind blowing, and his absence against the Netherlands was major.

Hector Herrera…where to begin? The guy had people like Rio Ferdinand talking about him. His silky ball control, vision, and pace makes him one of Mexico’s best prospects.

It is a shame and a heartbreak that Mexico was eliminated in the round of 16, while being able to tie Brazil with 7 points in group play. Mexico’s talent, unfortunately, didn’t have enough luck this time around. Yet, the confidence that this team was able to achieve leaves me optimistic for what is to come next.

Vamos México!

Roster + Projected XI for U.S. match

Fabián makes his return to the National team (Getty)

 

Goalkeepers: Talavera, Muñoz

Defenders: Márquez, Layún, Maza, Valenzuela, Ponce, Aguilar, Rogelio Chávez

Midfielders: Peña, Brizuela, Fabián, Luis Montes, Medina, Zavala

Forwards: Jiménez, Pulido

———————————————————————————————————

XI (5-3-2):

  • Talavera
  • Layún, Márquez (C), Maza, Valenzuela, Ponce
  • Peña, Medina, Montes
  • Pulido, Fabián

Mexico takes on the U.S. on Wednesday (4/2) in Glendale, AZ.

Vamos México!

Quick El Tri Headlines: February 11, 2014

Expect to see Ochoa’s name back with El Tri in March (Getty)

 

  • Piojo Herrera is just about done with his European trip. He will have his last stop in Portugal to visit Hector Herrera and Diego Reyes.
  • Piojo Herrera has confirmed that Guillermo Ochoa will be called for the Nigeria friendly in March.
  • Mexico is still in talks for some World Cup preparation games. Portugal is almost a done deal for a June match, and the United States is in negotiation for a non-FIFA date in April. Portugal has been rumored for a Massachusetts location, and the U.S. game in Arizona.
  • Many feel Chicharito wants out of Manchester United (again) after a recent Instagram picture/quote has stirred up some attention:

Ya llegará el tiempo de hablar sobre muchas cosas… The time to speak about so many things will come…

  • Tijuana, Cruz Azul, Toluca will seek to keep the Liga MX run in CONCACAF Champions League going in March. Knockout round begins on March 10th, here are the match-ups: Tijuana (3) vs LA Galaxy (6), Toluca (1) vs San Jose Earthquakes (8), Cruz Azul (2) vs Sporting Kansas City (7).

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!

Breaking down El Tri’s World Cup group

Mandžukić and Croatia will look to cause problems against Mexico in the final match of group play (Getty)

 

On December 6th, the world watched as the draw was made for the FIFA World Cup. Mexico was drawn into a difficult group with Cameroon, Brazil (Host), and Croatia. However, at the end of the draw, Mexico looks to have the best chance to advance from their group as a CONCACAF representative. Moreover, Mexico’s group might be just the right balance of comfort and difficulty to make a run in 2014.

Cameroon:

Currently ranked 59th in the FIFA rankings, Cameroon is Mexico’s first foe in the World Cup. Cameroon qualified fairly easily, but has had some suspect results in 2013. In the 2014 Africa cup of Nation’s qualification, Cameroon has lost to both the Congo and Gabon. It is hard to gage how powerful Cameroon will be but they will be lead by Samuel Eto’o. However, with a lack of marquee victories, Mexico shouldn’t feel overly intimated facing Cameroon, but also shouldn’t believe it will be a walk in the park.

Brazil:

Well…they are the dreaded top dog of the group. Mexico had been in Brazil’s group for the 2013 Confederations Cup and lost 0-2. Brazil would go on to win the Confederations Cup with a 3-0 victory over Spain. This will be a very difficult game for El Tri, but that doesn’t mean points are impossible. In their matchup in 2013, Brazil scored early and Mexico missed several opportunities to tie it up. Brazil’s second goal came on a defensive error and late in the game. Moreover, the Mexico side was at the time, in an ugly rut. A motivated Mexico can still fight for a positive result, and El Tri has had excellent matches against Brazil over the past few years. Brazil’s coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, even called Brazil vs Mexico a “classico,” so expect a target on Mexico’s back. That being said, this should be the most anticipated match of Group A.

Croatia:

A Top-20 side, Croatia has a very talented team in this group. Being the final rival for Mexico in group play means that these two could be fighting for the second spot to advance. Lead by big names like Srna and Mandžukić, Croatia are a quality European side. Expect this match to be a very physical one, which means it could all come down to one goal. Croatia may even be favorited to advance in this group, but if Mexico catches its fire from 2011/12, the Croatians may have a lot to handle.

Mexico opens up their World Cup group play on June 13, 2014 against Cameroon.

Vamos México!