A few days ago, Mexico played a thriller against Trinidad and Tobago to decide the winner of Group C in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. It looked as if Mexico was going to win the game with less than a minute left in stoppage time, until a late header by Yohance Marshall evened up the game to break Mexico’s heart in the last possible minute.
This game marks a low point in Mexican soccer as El Tri had a two-goal lead and looked like they were going to cruise to an easy victory. However, horrible play from the Mexican defense and a strong T&T counter attack led to the most exciting game of the Gold Cup so far.
Honestly, I have never seen a Mexico side this bad in my life. Growing up idolizing names such as Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Luis “El Matador” Hernández, and Francisco Palencia, now Mexico is left to suffer watching subpar performances by Miguel Layún, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Francisco Javier Rodríguez. I never thought in my life I would see a Mexico side that would win only two games out of 12 played. Out of those 12 games, seven have ended in draws, and against teams that Mexico should be beating.
Teams such as Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Bolivia rank way lower than Mexico in the FIFA standings and, historically speaking, Mexico has beaten teams of this caliber the majority of times they have faced-off, but now they only manage draws against them.
So the question is, why is Mexico playing like hot garbage? It could be a variety of reasons. It could be that they are playing really uninspired because their star playmaker, Javier “El Chicharito” Hernández, is out hurt and he is usually the spark to the Mexican offense.
To add to their injury woes, one of their star central defenders, Hector Moreno, was ruled out of the competition as he had surgery on his knee. Mexico sure could’ve used him in the game against Trinidad, as Moreno’s experience and strength in marking players in set pieces would have been key. So the absence of these two important players can be messing with their chemistry.
None of the current players add any creativity to the mix and, one of the players that could provide a spark in Giovani Dos Santos, who finally was included in the starting 11 in the game against Trinidad, is left to rot on the bench thanks to the cluelessness of Miguel Herrera. Others such as Jonathan Dos Santos and Hector Herrera have failed to step up in the Mexican midfield, as they lose possession easily and don’t live up to deserve a spot in the starting lineup.
Probably the most important aspect of Mexico’s poor play, has been their terrible defending and lack of physicality. Francisco “El Maza” Rodríguez and Yasser Corona have been pointed out as Mexico’s worst performers in the tournament, looking lethargic as Trinidad and Tobago tore them apart, blowing by them at every opportunity they had.
The fact that Maza and Corona are both over 6 feet also doesn’t justify their lack of physicality in the backline. Players of their size and caliber should not be losing physical battles, such as the late game tying goal from a header, to teams whose players are smaller and lankier than the Mexican center defensemen.
Fans so far are calling for Miguel “El Piojo” Herrera’s ouster after their string of bad results, but another coach is not the answer. While it might be easy to blame Herrera (and on some occasions he deserves his share of the blame) Mexico, as a squad, needs to look within the squad itself and restore order before fans start throwing bottles in their direction.
What Mexico really needs is a strong leader in the team to get them thinking right mentally, and to play more physical on defense. They need a solid figure, like Rafa Marquez and Cuauhtémoc Blanco were not too long ago, that will guide Mexico out of this rut and into a better state of mind.
Because Mexico’s fans deserve much more than this team is giving them.