“Mexico crashes out of the World Cup”
“¡Fracaso para Mexico”
“Round of 16 Curse Continues”
All headlines I’ve seen since Mexico lost to Brazil. This doesn’t include all the memes on social media. I’ve kind of grown numb to the over reactions around El Tri. It’s hard not to. EVERYTHING gets blown out of proportion with this team.
Does anyone remember the late night party with “30 escorts” before the Denmark game? Or the friendlies in May where it was “clear Mexico has no chance to make it out of the group”? Or how the national team was going to embarrass the country?
Over reactions are not limited to just the negative side. “Osorio is a genius” is a popular headline from the Mexican media that had been trying to fire him since day one. Same media started pumping out stories on how El Tri’s path to the semis would be “easy”.
I try to stay in between both extremes. Did the win against Germany give me hope? Of course and the team deserves credit for beating the reigning champs. This includes Osorio. Not to say he’s a genius but Mexican fans have been to harsh and ruthless with criticism towards him. Is he a perfect coach? No but he’s also one of the better coaches El Tri has had. He took a job that not many wanted. Something a lot of fans ignore. No one wanted the job and we could have ended up with another coaching retread. So I am grateful for him taking on the project. This isn’t going to turn into a “give Osorio another 4 year deal” piece. Just to say he has had a solid run with the national team.
The FMF has not really had a history of supporting their coaches or buying into their changes for the national team program. With Osorio, they gave him support when a decent sized portion of the fanbase wanted him out, not to mention the Mexican media’s shenanigans. The FMF even bought into his holistic approach of preparing the players for tournaments. They set up individual training programs for 40 players in the national team pool that were designed to prepare them for this summer. Much has been made of Osorio bringing in a mental coach but the FMF had to sign off first. I don’t think any coach will fulfill Mexican fans’ expectations. But the FMF has shown potential coaching candidates they can adapt to their coach and standby them if things get testy. It is still a high pressure job but the FMF has tried to make it more inviting. Maybe potential candidates will take a meeting about being the next Mexico manager rather than run away from the position.
Let’s get back to those expectations for the national team. Expectations that seem to fluctuate with every game. Can Mexico compete with any national team? Yes but they don’t have the depth or talent to be expected to consistently beat the Germanys and Brazils of the soccer world. We are just not there and that has to do with a ton of factors. To simplify things a little, the losers of the round of 16 games will be ranked between the 9th and 16th “best” national teams in the world. I think that’s where Mexico is as a program right now. El Tri is just a peg below the elite of international soccer.
That doesn’t mean losing in that round hurts any less but to think this program is trash because we haven’t broken through is a mistake. Only Brazil has a longer current streak of reaching the knockout rounds at the World Cup. That type of consistency should be applauded and not just ridiculed by fans and media members alike.
That’s not to say the National team should be content staying at this level. Younger players are testing themselves overseas and more Mexican clubs are investing in their youth academies. I know there are still problems with the FMF (moleros?) and LigaMX (pacto de caballeros?) but the players union is giving me hope those issues will be addressed. If you told me in 2014 there would be a players union in Mexico with Rafa Márquez leading the fight for players’ rights, I would have called you crazy. But here we are and some clubs have even started to release players without putting them through the draft or without expectation of compensation.
I guess this article/rant is just a long way of saying I’m still proud of this squad despite not making it to the quinto partido. Nowadays, everything is either a success or a failure. There’s hardly any grey area but I don’t think everything is black or white. I acknowledge the disappointment of not reaching the quarterfinals but believe the program is making progress in areas it has not done so before. Maybe I’m just too much of an optimistic for many of you but like Chicharito said: