So… what the hell happened to Mexico at Copa America? I can’t say I am too surprised at the group stage exit but that doesn’t mean I was not disappointed by it all. So what could have been done to improve Mexico’s Copa America?
Look, I love Piojo’s enthusiasm but him (and the federation) did a poor job of managing expectations. They acted like this was the A team and proclaimed a goal of making it to the final. A goal which was pretty much out of reach once the roster was announced. I know he couldn’t say “hey, this is our B team. I hope we can try to not embarrass ourselves” but he did the opposite. Piojo kept propping this team up like it was a legitimate contender and added pressure on a team filled with fringe players. Which brings me to my next problem with this team….
This team was never going to call up the heavy hitters such as Vela, and Chicharito but it could have provided younger players a chance to earn senior national team minutes. At the very least, it could have been a mix of the U22 team with solid veterans and fringe “A” team players. But the roster mostly resembled a team full of not quite senior internationals w/no chance of helping the senior side in the future.
Although Mexico lost all 3 group games and only scored 1 goal in 2011, but the tournament (and warm up games) provided valuable experience for many young players just breaking into the senior team pool. The final roster for Copa America 2011 (after the suspensions) featured only 5 players age 25+ (Peralta, Michel, Reynoso, Aguilar, & Marquez Lugo). It was full of players who had a future in the national team program. Those camps and games were used as a springboard into the 2012 Olympic Games. Half of the Gold Medal winning roster was from the 2011 Copa America. More importantly, 7 players (8 if you count suspended Marco Fabian) ended up on the plane to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.
The 2015 Copa America roster featured only 5 players under the age of 25. It mostly had players in the latter stages of their careers who could never fully latch onto the senior national team. There aren’t many players on this roster who will help Mexico qualify for 2018 WC. I don’t care what Piojo says, it was the definition of a B team. The national team would have been better served by sending a U22 based squad with a couple senior players to provide leadership. That would have eased the pain of not advancing from the group.
This has been an issue since the World Cup. Piojo says Mexico will experiment with other formations but those usually last 15mins when they are losing in a friendly. The 5-3-2 formation is useless if Mexico’s wingbacks are not attacking the flanks and that has been the case for plenty of matches since the World Cup. Also, playing a 5-3-2 formation limits how you can utilize certain players. This is the reason Piojo had to play 2 defensive minded midfielders just to free up Tecatito and why he could not find room on the field for Aquino or Fabian. If your formation is dictating you not play your more talented players, maybe its time to switch the formation to match your roster. Especially when you have a depleted roster that you are trying to get as much out of as possible.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.