When Mexico lost to Chile 7-0, it was the worst game I had ever seen them play in my life. And it wasn’t something we actually wanted to see happen. We had seen the devastation Brazil faced in 2014 losing 7 to 1 against Germany thinking, Whew, glad it isn’t us. Yet it happened last Saturday. It was us. And we didn’t even get a goal like Brazil.
A majority of Mexico fans sat in their seats at home, in the stadium, or wherever they were and could probably not move for a while.
It was a car crash you couldn’t look away from.
The first goal came at the 15th minute. Marcelo Diaz took a shot against Ochoa (who was playing his second game of the tournament) and despite us fans getting high hopes because Ochoa blocked that first attempt, Puch came in for the remate and scored the first goal.
We knew it would come eventually and it started early.
But it didn’t stop and that, we were not prepared for.
It kept going and going and going and didn’t end.
Seriously, it did not stop until the 88th minute.
Why had we not seen the signs? Why did this hurt so badly? And why did we not discuss the real problem with Juan Carlos Osorio?
Osorio is not a bad coach; He’s just not the coach Mexico needs if he continues the way he is going.
I’ll say the same thing I said in the weeks after it was first announced that Piojo would be taking over El Tri: the puzzle pieces were coming together with Piojo. There might have been the occasional criticism of Piojo for the emotional antics and even concern about his extracurricular activities involving politics and commercials, but he had passion. Coming off of victorious season with Club America back then, Piojo loved the team. When he was given the opportunity, he was honored.
I will not completely romanticize the situation because I know a lot of it had to do with monetary offers and it was also a streak of good luck for Piojo is the midst of lots of bad luck for the Mexican Fútbol Federation, but that does not take away from the fact that it was perfect timing.
And nearly perfectly executed by Piojo.
He came on knowing he had to bring the best players forward. There was no preference. No LaVolpe-style of coaching. If you had talent and he knew you had talent, you were going to play. He would do everything in his power to get you to come play for the team you (and he) loved and was going to make you proud to be part of the team.
When Carlos Vela was not anywhere near playing for the team, he went out of his way to go talk to him and although he failed the first time, he eventually led Vela back to the team, and with it, came good results, with Vela scoring in his first appearance back with the squad.
He turned a horribly dismal World Cup qualifying round into a great qualifying playoff round against New Zealand and showed a great coaching position in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Fast forward to summer of 2015 and despite the ups and downs of the Gold Cup tournament, Mexico still won that tournament and proved that they were capable of beating Jamaica. No one thought that they were going to win against Jamaica. The road to the final was a complicated one. Not one but TWO penalties that helped determine Mexico’s fate in the Gold Cup. And it was frustrating. (Ask Alejandro Berry… that guy was maaaaaad).
Frustrating because we believed in Mexico but we were not naïve. We had been angry and disappointed and felt almost as if we didn’t even deserve to win that Gold Cup tournament. We had a feeling that Jamaica was going to score all the goals on us. Until they didn’t. Mexico proved us wrong and we proudly admitted guilt at ever underestimating the team.
But that was not the case against Chile. We were not blind to the reality of the situation we were dealing with at the Copa America. I certainly was not. Since the beginning of the tournament, when I was lucky enough to cover the game against Uruguay in Phoenix, I saw the red flags.
The defense was the biggest weakness. Osorio had made his brand “rotational” play, changing up the line-up by analyzing who best would work in the different positions according to the team. It did not make sense. There would never be consistency. Talavera was starting against Uruguay. He was clumsy. And even against 10 men, they got scored on and were having trouble maintaining the momentum.
The game against Jamaica showed the discrepancies even more. The only problem with Jamaica was that they could not finish the chances they had. It was lucky for Mexico. In retrospect, Jamaica should’ve won that game given all the chances they had to score. Ochoa was doing great in goal but even I can admit there were plenty of goals that Jamaica should have scored. But they didn’t. And we brushed it off.
We brushed it off because we won.
We brushed it off because Chicharito’s goal was really nice.
Because Oribe came in and didn’t allow the game to turn into a boring 1-0 win that probably would’ve raised the concerns more and would’ve allowed us to have a real discussion about what was going on with the team.
We did not have a serious discussion about Mexico tying with Venezuela 1-1 and the ramifications it would probably have against Chile. The real danger of facing Chile should have come to us sooner.
But it didn’t. We were just happy Mexico wasn’t facing Argentina yet and we went about our way.
We would even laughed about it—journalists and fans alike.
”Well, we’re still winning. So what is there to complain about?”
But there were so many things to complain about. But we avoided talking about them. We turned our heads. If we closed our eyes, we couldn’t see it. If we were winning, we couldn’t see it. We chose to blindly follow.
But we did not prove our spot in this tournament. We did not prove we were the best. We were not the best.
Do we have some of the best? Yes.
But they don’t have consistency. They have rotations and favoritism. They have unclear guidelines that probably leave them confused. The strength they had at the beginning of Osorio’s reign largely existed because of what Piojo had done with the team. But that faded away. Piojo’s influence only went so far.
The FMF did not fire Osorio. I still don’t think he’s the coach for Mexico. In my opinion, they should’ve fired him. But he’s still there and now, he has to really reflect. Whatever he does, he can’t keep the same mentality. That would just be madness.
A majority of us have started to let it go. The little taunts from non-Mexico fans will still hurt for the next couple of months.
But it’s time to rise from the less severe ashes. We are not 2014-qualifying-status…. Yet.
But Osorio needs to change. We are no longer going to blindly follow him. He doesn’t have victories or ties to save him anymore. He’s uncovered our eyes to the reality of the situation. Now it’s time for him to wake up.
Time for him to realize that Gio Dos Santos and Carlos Vela might be needed. The rotational method just doesn’t work for Mexico, and if he really wants to keep his signature style, he needs to at least have some form of consistency. More than 3 players need to always play every single match. A set goalkeeper would also help.
Whatever he needs to do to ensure he never gets another 7-0 defeat on his record.