JUNCTION CITY, KS - What is it about US-Mexico qualifiers and my inability to watch them?
In 2009 I was on the Cowboys charter headed for the Bay area and was relegated to the cellphone to follow the US play at the Azteca. Last night, on my to cover Texas vs. Kansas St., we resorted to twitter to keep us up to date on what was happening.
Shock result doesn't do it justice. Grant Wahl tweeted "the biggest upset in women's soccer history."
And who can argue? The US women are the standard bearers of the sport. Multiple gold medals, a World Cup, and a regional dominance that is unquestioned and unrivaled. The numbers speak for themselves: In the 21 previous qualifiers, all of them are wins, and the goal differential was +128.
The US women are going to have to play a few more qualifiers before heading to Germany 2011. Mexico punched their ticket last night with the 2-1 win.
The victory is a tribute to the young women, most of whom are under 25, who have improved immensely over the years. A testament to Leonardo Cuellar, who started the women's program out thin air in 1998. Cuellar and his players have taken a lot of lumps and were at the business end of a lot of lop-sided scores. Amazingly, FMF has stuck with him. It has taken a while, but Mexico's women's program has started to bear fruit. Earlier this summer, the U17 became the first women's team to make it past the group stage in a world cup. If only the men's team had a sliver of the continuity that Cuellar has enjoyed.
And last night the senior team slew a giant.
On a personal note, I am very happy for the team, and especially so for Cuellar. He was one of my favorite players on my favorite team growing up.
Cuellar as a puma
But he'll be the first to tell you that this isn't his accomplishment.
"At the end of the day, all the credit goes to the ladies. They are the ones with the ball at their feet, making those decisions. It's a clear example that there is talent in Mexico."
I also want to recognize the bigsoccer members who post in the US Women's Soccer N&A forum. It is not often that a discussion about a US-Mexico match doesn't degenerate into an unreadable mess that is exacerbated by both sides. I learned a lot about the women's team reading the posts, and I learned a lot about the posters who recognized and respected what they had witnessed.
Good luck to the US Women vs. Costa Rica, and then hopefully Italy.