Defined by Defeat

I am a big fan of NFL Films. My favorite period are the films they made during the late 60s and early 70s, culminating with NFL ’74, the Championship Chase. I happened to catch their film of Super Bowl VI the other day. Dallas exorcised a lot of ghosts in their defeat of the Dolphins. As Films put it, a team that had more games than any other for five years were defined by defeat.

I couldn’t think of a better way to encapsulate the historical and current state of Mexican futbol.

Defined by defeat.

It’s true that every team will lose cups than they will win, but Mexican teams seem to raise losing to a sublime art form.

The National team is defined by defeat. It’s true that the Tri has made it to the knockouts in each of its last 6 world cups. But they only have 1 win in that round. The Copa America has been a great addition to Mexico’s schedule, but they have lost both finals in which they appeared.

Cruz Azul has won a ton of titles back in the 70s, but lately their reputation has been formed by their lack of success in cup finals, as they have lost their last 5 in the past few years.

Mexican clubs have done well participating in the South American club tournaments, making 5 finals appearances. But again, they have only been able to win one of those. Chivas was the latest to fall short in their bid with a 3-2 (5-3) loss last night at Internacional’s Beira Rio stadium in Porto Allegre. Chivas fans still talk about their Campeonisimo days of the 50’s. But As those days fall back further into the distant echoes of memory, frankly, it sounds a little disingenuous. Like Yale laying claim to all those National Championships they won in college football back in the 1910's and 1920s.

There is no doubt that Mexican futbol, at the club and National team level has improved immensely over the past generation. It would be nice if “Gana Mexico”, “gana Chivas”, “Gana Pumas” can eventually replace the most common phrase uttered after a Mexican team plays a big game: “Jugamos como nunca, y perdimos como siempre.”

And when that Mexican team does win that elusive big game, it will be as much to "earn the title as champion as it is to shed the label as loser."