The end of 2015 is no longer slowly upon us. Tomorrow ends this year and with it, all the great memories that El Tri has given us since the beginning of the year shows amazing promise for 2016.
Mexico has ended their 2015 career with 11 wins, 9 ties and 3 losses. A highly impressive year that at times seemed to challenge both the players and its many fans and followers.
It all started in March with an incredibly anticipated match against Ecuador at the Los Angeles Coliseum. It was with this 1-0 victory that Mexico was able to show that they were strong and as a team, they had a forward mindset about how they wanted to redeem themselves from the World Cup and for the lead up to the Gold Cup this past summer. It also allowed the Mexican National Team to realize just how big of a fandom they hail here in the United States, particularly in the city of Los Angeles.
The “Clasico” against the United States in April proved problematic, giving the US yet again the upper-hand in the quest to be the king of CONCACAF, ending in another “dos a cero” loss for El Tri. Questions soon arose about the Gold Cup.
The blip of the Copa America was given some consideration, but the very apparent “B” team of that tournament who was disqualified early only brought more expectation for the more experienced “A” team that would be appearing during the Gold Cup.
The lead up to the tournament was a mixture of tie and losses. Many did not believe they had to ability to win the tournament, if at all even advance to the final.
The Gold Cup was Mexico’s most significant and controversial tournament of the year in terms of game play, end results and most importantly, the strange aftermath that came afterwards. The 6-0 win against Cuba showed that Mexico was still able to dominant against smaller teams. They struggled against more competitive teams in CONCACAF like Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago but things for the team took a toll when they faced both Costa Rica and Panama in the advanced stages of the tournament. Both games gave the Mexico the wins through controversial penalties in added extra time, a coincidence that many in the media—particularly in Mexico--were very adamant to express disgust and remorse about.
But the final proved that Mexico was capable of better performances than they had showed the whole tournament, with a 3-1 victory against the favored team, Jamaica, that helped show the strong conviction that Andres Guardado had as a captain and the great capability that starting forwards had up top (Vela, Chicharito, Peralta) and the promise of Jesus “Tecatito” Corona only brought great possibilities for the younger generation.
Things got interesting for the team with the loss of coach, Miguel Herrera, after a very unusual and upsetting altercation with an Azteca TV journalist that resulted in violent attacks and Herrera’s eventual departure from the team. The upsetting part of this was purely off the pitch, for the Mexican side was proving to be a strong team and under Herrera’s direction, were able to create a blueprint that “Tuca” Ferretti was able to easily assimilate into when it came to leading the players.
Hector Herrera got his groove back during a friendly against Argentina and “Chicharito” Hernandez proved to still be able to finish when put in his desired position.
In a complete 180 and almost poetic turnaround for El Tri, October showed the strength the team now possessed. Ferretti’s final game as voluntary coach was an important one: the Confederation Cup playoff against the United States at the Rose Bowl. Again, the team was in Los Angeles and more importantly, they were facing their CONCACAF rivals. The atmosphere was intense and Mexico was determined get rid of the dreaded “dos a cero” chant US fans had become so happy to scream. But under Tuca’s direction and Guardado’s strong leadership, Mexico was able to get the 3-2 (“dos a tres”) victory and secure the ticket to the Confederation Cup in Russia.
Mexico ended the year with two World Cup Qualifying matches against El Salvador and Honduras, the game against Honduras showing an even brighter future for the youngsters with goals from both “Tecatito” and Jurgen Damm.
Mexico will start 2016 with a friendly against Senegal in February and considering 2015, this should not prove to be problematic the way Mexico has always been.
Guardado is proving his leadership outside of Mexico with great results in PSV. Layun, Hector Herrera and “Tecatito” have all shown impressive performances with Porto. Herrera being named the player of the year for the club shows him in a strong place once again. Chicharito, after a disappointing run when he return to Manchester United, has proved critics wrong after being sold to Bayer Leverkusen in August. He currently has 15 goals in his last 12 matches and 17 goals total in 20 matches, with an impressive hat trick earlier this month against Borussia Mönchengladbach. He’s been named player of the month for Bundesliga twice.
Couple that with rumors about Damm moving to Europe, the staggering popularity that Gio Dos Santos has had with the LA Galaxy, Raul Jimenez doing well with Benfica, Rafa’s move back to Atlas, and the positive direction Juan Carlos Osorio has the team going in, it is safe to say that Mexico will be taking 2016 by the horns. The only opponents that can bring them down are themselves.