Prospecting in the Rockies

There is no denying that the Femexut is a marketing machine. Can you think of another natonal team that has an official anti-diarrhea medicine sponsor? Can you think of a team that has a more appropriate sponsor? This week their cash cow gets to graze in the rocky mountains as Mexico takes on the Bolivians in a tune up for their crucial two-game showdown vs. the Ticos and Catrachos. Since it is not an official FIFA international date, coupled with a Libertadores fixture for Chivas, one would think that SGE would have ample opportunity to bring in some new guys and see what they can do.

Mexico’s lack of goal production over the last few games has been alarming to say the least. Surely the Swede would hand pick the guys whom he thinks can finally break what has been historically Mexico’s toughest nut to crack. The league has moved into its second half, and there are surprisingly a handful of Mexicans near the top of the scorer’s table. Luis Landin, Oribe Peralta, and Aldo de Nigris have all had a great first half of the Clausura. They are all in the top 10 on the goals scored list. So why aren’t they headed to the Mile High City?

Does SGE think that Peralta, de Nigris and Landin are fool’s gold? Landin has the size, the speed, and the skills, but his desire and attitude have been lacking. The other two are having the season of their lives. And what of the two warm bodies that SGE did pick for the friendly, Sergio Santana and Jose Maria Cardenas? Well they’re certainly feisty: they have more yellow cards between them than goals.

It’s an interesting question. Oddly enough, very few of Mexico’s great goal scorers have been able to match their league success at the national team level. The greatest goal scorer, Hugo Sanchez, managed to score only one world cup goal in 3 appearances. To be fair, though, he was robbed of playing in Italia90 because of the sheer stupidity of Femexfut’s over-age scandal. Mexico was banned from the Finals when Hugo (and Mexico) was at the absolute peak of his power. It still tightens my lip when I think about it, especially considering how weak that tournament turned out to be. But that is a blog for another day.

It’s not just Hugo, though. Carlos Hermosillo, Zague, Omar Bravo have all seen the goal shrink wearing the flag’s colors. Only Jared Borgetti seemed to be at ease wearing green. It’s one thing to pad your stats playing the banana islands of CONCACAF, but it’s another animal all together trying to get the goals against stronger opponents. Borgetti scored plenty against the Domincas, but he also bagged important goals in qualifiers, and cup competitions. And how many goal scorers can say that they made a statue out of Gigi Buffon?

It’s been the afterthoughts, the also-rans in the league who see the goal as a double-wide during national team duty. Luis Hernandez was one such guy. Nothing spectacular in the league, but once he wore the green (especially the one with the Aztec calendar – by far Mexico’s coolest uniform ever), he became a cold, calculated finisher. He had two lights out tournaments in 97 and 98. Unfortunately el matador was more of a comet than a star, and faded into oblivion soon after.

The reality is that Mexico’s best hope to fill the shoes of the difference-making goal scorer doesn’t play in Mexico at all, but in North London. Carlos Vela has seen a decent amount of time on the field for Arsenal. He scored a great goal in their FA tie over the weekend as well. Is it too much to ask for 20 year old to assume that kind of responsibility? Unless someone else steps up, he might have to. What is it that Malvalio said about greatness in Twelfth Night?. Vela might have been born great, but he might also have to have greatness thrust upon him for Mexico to finally find the net with regularity.