Nos Vemos en Tokio

Expected but the nature of CONCACAF’s Olympic Qualifying lends itself to upsets. Just ask the USMNT how it went for them…again. Mexico were able to avoid those pitfalls and clinch their spot in Tokyo.

There was a debate about the Olympics not being the end all be all and how it does not directly correlate with Senior team. That is definitely true: success at youth soccer does not mean success at senior level. However, the added benefit of making the Olympics is worth it to any national team program. Especially if you are lucky enough to win it all. You should want your country to play in every big tournament you can. It is a failure to not qualify for the tournament if your soccer federation makes it a goal. Which is what US Soccer has been saying for years and heads would roll at FMF if Mexico missed out on the Olympics.

For some players, it can solidify their place on the national team and get more eye balls on them for the international transfer market. 7 players from the 2012 and 2016 teams made European transfers within 12 months of their Olympic performances. Is it 100% correlated? No but you cannot tell me the run Hector Herrera had with the Olympic team had nothing to do with his move to $12m transfer Porto the following summer. A run that saw him be named the best player at the 2012 Toulon Tournament. The fee Porto paid was the highest for a Mexican leaving LigaMX. It was almost 50% more than Manchester United paid for Javier Hernandez just 3 years before. There were even rumors of United looking at signing El Zorillo before Porto.

So… yeah. The Olympics are not the biggest tournament in the world and missing out on them is not the same as missing a World Cup. Many countries do not care at all about making them. But there are tangible benefits for performing well and giving younger players who have not totally broken through to the senior national team a few months of competitive games. To be honest, juggling the U23 team in conjunction with the senior side will create some selection problems for the FMF. A problem somewhat alleviated by the Confederations Cup no longer being a thing. This makes it easier for the national team to split its players among the 2 squads. Ultimately, the additional games will give Tata and his staff more data points to pick the best senior team players for World Cup Qualifying later this year.

Now excuse me while I go find my 2012 Olympic jersey in my closet. I think its the one with a star above Mexican flag.