Mexico Fails to Impress the Impossible to Impress

Mexico loses; the sky is falling. Mexico wins, but not with enough style; the sky is falling. Negative press is a lucrative business in Mexico, even in victory. And nothing sells more rags than raggin’ on the Tri.

Some of the choice headlines from today’s dailies:

We Celebrated?

Insipid Victory

El Tri Celebrates a Ridiculous Victory

This Green Has Yet to Ripen

Even the Nicaraguan press got in the fun. They lamented the fact that their boys couldn’t take advantage of the “worst Tri ever.” Trust me, there have been much worse Tri’s than this. Much worse.

Did Mexico play well yesterday? Not particularly. But they didn’t have to. It was Nicaragua, after all. How could we forget? All the pundits reminded us so while demanding a double digit beat down. In our little corner of the world, games vs. the minnows are always a lose-lose, no matter the result. The best you can say about games like this is at least no one was injured. Unfortunately, Mexico couldn’t even say that. Carlos Vela’s early exit due to injury changed the complexion of the game.

Mexico has played 14 official games with 4 different coaches. The team that lined up yesterday in Oakland (I don’t mind the Bay Area venue, but isn’t Candlestick available? At least it doesn’t have a temporarily sodded infield. Disgraceful, CONCACAF) was playing its second game together. In year 3 of a World Cup cycle. 3 players made their debuts in an official match. So with all the turmoil, the coaching turnover, the injuries, and frankly, the bad luck, is it really a surprise that Mexico isn’t playing at their best?

But do the chicken littles pay attention to these little indiscretions? Of course not. They always expect Mexico to play like a squad that has been together for years, not a few days. The kind of team that would dispatch a gnat like Nicaragua in a matter of 85 seconds, not 85 minutes.

Allow me to pump a little sunshine into this bleak outlook.

The critics say he should have fielded a full squad to find some kind of coherence. I say he needs to give the Euros a break before they start pre-season at their clubs. Andres Guardado was completely dead-legged at the end of the year. Why would he want to prolong that? Aguirre needs to find the local players who can complement or even supplant the expats. Let’s face it, they haven’t really set the world on fire.

CONCACAF’s greed has given Javier Aguirre the opportunity, in essence, a possible six game warm-up for the games that really count later this year. He has a chance to see what players will respond (and won’t) when faced with the inevitable 8-1-1 formations they’ll see at the Gold Cup and beyond. He can see who in his back line can put an end to the careless, amateurish mistakes that have cost Mexico dearly in the past.

So Mexico won 2-0, and didn’t look so good in doing so. Surprising? No. Alarming? Hardly. But you'd never know it.