Mexico’s veteran squad faced El Salvador Friday, taking a 3-1 victory in the later parts of the match. The game came as a redemption opportunity for El Tri following the debacle of in the Copa America this past summer.
The loss against Chile is still clearly in everyone’s minds and all the events transpiring leading up to this game against El Salvador did not make anything easier.
Even with the victory against El Salvador, the aura surrounding the team has not gotten any better. And honestly, even if Mexico manages to get a win against Honduras, it will not really matter.
Because if Osorio is still the coach, it won’t get better. Even if they win this match against Honduras and end up with a perfect qualifying round, Osorio must go.
First, let’s start with the call-ups for these matches. With the issues that were going on, you would think that Osorio would maybe, just maybe would at least try to do something differently. Maybe he would call Gio. Gio had already made it public that he would play with the team again and he was ready to represent his team. Why not call him? Where was the harm? But, alas, he went and just kept being the same old Osorio.
Okay, at least he brought some of the players you’d expect: Hector Herrera, Javier Aquino, and thankfully, he agreed to bring Ochoa. Of course he had to bring Guardado but then it gets weird. If this series of games were merely friendlies, it would be understandable. But this is seriously his first set of games following the Chile domination, and he wants to bring in younger players? Then you see someone like Pena in the call-ups and one can only see Gio Dos Santos silently scoffing to himself from his loft or suite in Los Angeles as he continues scoring goals for the LA Galaxy.
What makes the set of players even more bizarre is the fact that it is Osorio so one just begins to imagine how exactly the rotational process will work for which players and frustration kicks in. Then add that to the fact that players were slowly getting injured or had to be sent back home prior to the match against El Salvador and now more players are getting injured before the Honduras match and frustration just gets worse.
I know that at times as journalists we need to be objective and that it is not about the emotional aspect of it all, but in this case, I think emotion is very much a part of the narrative. Mexico fans and their critics have always been overwhelming emotional—regardless of what end of the spectrum they are on. Since Osorio has been coach, there has been a lack of emotion from him personally. The team went from having this passionate (sometimes, a little too much) in the form of Miguel ‘Piojo’ Herrera but his approach proved effective.
Not just to the fans, but to the players themselves. There was this family-like aura that you got from the team. He loved them and they loved him. He was of Mexican-descent so this was his team. He wanted to nurture and adapt it to the best of its ability. No exclusivity. No drama in regards to the team. He gave transparency and protected his team and his players.
Osorio does not do this and the team has suffered as a result.
The team might not necessarily need ‘Piojo’ back. (Although, I think they desperately do). They just do not need Osorio. And no, my previous paragraph does not imply that only a coach of Mexican descent is qualified for the job. It only means that Osorio’s direction is not the right one.
Fans, critics and analysts cannot make the same mistake they made during the Copa America. They cannot breathe a sigh of relief simply because Osorio luckily managed to get a late win against El Salvador. They cannot do the same either if El Tri gets victory against Honduras, who is a somewhat tougher opponent than El Salvador. The team still struggled during the first half of match, was losing even. They started scoring, but was it because of the rotations? Did they actually work? Or was it simply luck?
Who is to say that the team just continues to keep getting strings of luck? Say, for another three games… until it is a legitimate game? Until it’s a game where the stakes are really high just like it was during the Chile match. Where everyone really honestly thought we were going to win only to be humiliated.
The rotations Osorio has will only go so far. Guillermo Ochoa already expressed concern over the rotations and despite managing a win against El Salvador; it has not really shown to be a perfect strategy. Couple that in with the fact that the match against Honduras on Tuesday has yet another batch of rotations, not only is it confusing, but it does not reassure things are going to get better. It has not yet guaranteed a win.
In a broader picture, Osorio himself has not really proven who he is a Mexico’s coach. Unlike his rotations, who he is remains the same. No matter what the outcome or how well or how bad the game is going, he still makes the same decisions and presents himself in the same elusive manner as always. And I think that demeanor is here to stay as long as he does with the team.
Osorio said during a press conference on Tuesday that it was not about beating Honduras personally, he just wanted to gain back the support from the fans and come out victorious. Unfortunately, I think it might already be too late for one of those.