Mexico qualified for the next round.
So why the long face?
Losing isn’t the best way to qualify for the next round of the tournament, but the ticket is in hand. And a likely dance with Argentina is next. Alright, then.
About a week ago, I pointed out that South Africa’s late game shot off the post could be the difference between advancing or not. Of course, a lot of stuff happened in between, including Uruguay scoring 2 late goals in their 3-0 win. But that shot off the post still lingers…
Uruguay has the kind of team that is positioned to win some games in the knockouts. They have yet to concede a goal, they are happy to concede possession, but can claim it any time they want. And they have the players that can take advantage of their opportunities, which they will see less and less as the tournament progresses.
Mexico was guilty of their classic fatal flaw: impatience leads to imprecision, and one of the numerous unforced error sprung Uruguay on a three touch counter attack capped off by Luis Suarez’ impeccable finish. It wasn’t Mexico’s sole indiscretion. Uruguay could have punished Mexico further on various other giveaways but didn’t. Argentina won't be as charitable.
South Africa also had plenty of chances to tighten the goal differential with Mexico but were denied both by the frame and Hugo LLoris. And when Flourent Malouda tapped in for France, it was academic. And France goes home yet again from the hosts group in complete disgrace.
It’s always black and white with Mexico and it fans. A big win is celebrated like fiestas patrias, cinco de mayo, dia de la revolucion y constitucion combined. It’s quite a party. The team is lauded as the greatest XI to ever take the field in association football. And then after a loss, players and coaches are eviscerated and decisions are always deemed the worst in the history of organized sport. The extremes are pretty hilarious, but I guess it’s the same as everywhere else.
No one ever likes to lose, and it would be nice to have some momentum going in to the knockouts. Did Mexico play well? Not really, but they weren’t awful. Awful would have been losing and going home. Mexico could afford to lose. How many other teams would have loved to have been in Mexico’s position today, where even a loss would see them through? I can think of plenty.