The Ups and Downs of Mexico's 2010

2010 was a World Cup year, so expectations were always going to be high. And after the first few months of the year, those expectations were ratcheted up a few notches because of the play of one Javier Hernandez. Chicharito scored goals for both club and country at a pace seldom seen by a Mexican striker. It wasn’t as if he came out of nowhere, though. Once the young Hernandez had established himself as a starter for Chivas, the goals came. He ended his 2010 scoring goals for Sir Alex and Manchester United.

Santos managed to take Toluca to extra time in the Bicentenario season Final. But all of a sudden the goal became Lilliputian in size, as did their confidence. They missed a stunning array of opportunities in the extra time, as well as penalties. Toluca escaped with their 10th title.

An injury left Humberto “Chupete” Suazo out of favor at Zaragoza, where he had gone on loan from Monterrey prior to the World Cup. A hobbled Chupete was ineffective in South Africa, so Zaragoza decided to send him back. Zaragoza is now in mired in relegation battle. A finally healthy Suazo returned to Monterrey and led them to their 2nd championship in as many years, scoring 17 goals in the process.

Javier Aguirre went from savior, to genius, to clinically insane in a short span of 8 months. He had pulled Mexico’s collective keester out of the fire by qualifying for South Africa. He then seemed to be making all the right personnel decisions in the months leading to South Africa, the most intriguing of which was Braulio Luna, who was making the most out of his opportunity.
Things started to unravel when Aguirre announced his preliminary squad, from which he left off said Luna, among others. It was the first of many questionable decisions: keeping Adolfo Bautista, cutting Jonathan Dos Santos, not naming a team captain, leaving Andres Guardado out of the starting line up, playing an obviously injured Guille Franco, and limiting Javier Hernandez’ minutes.

But for one afternoon in June, all the bitching, the BS, and the uncertainty about Mexico’s national team all blissfully went away after Mexico defeated France in chilly Polokwane. It was the first time Mexico had ever defeated a former World Cup champion in the World Cup. The goal scorer’s could not have been more perfect: The emerging superstar, Javier Hernandez got the first, and the aging legend, Cuauhtémoc Blanco got the other. The euphoria was short lived, though: Mexico missed a golden opportunity to avoid a murder’s row bracket by losing to Uruguay, 1-0. Their World Cup ended the very next game in 3-1 defeat to Argentina.

Mexico’s World Cup campaign was a huge disappointment. And the anger reached the boiling point when the Mexican players had the nerve to have a get-together after a friendly in Monterrey. They were vilified in the press, the court of public opinion, and by the own Federation, whose lack of communication with the players, unearthed an ugly rift between the team and the suits. The Mexican standoff ended with the resignation National Team Director, Nestor de la Torre

The best result of the year was by far the most unexpected. Mexico’s women’s national team had finished 2nd in its qualifying group, which meant they had to get by a team that not only had never lost a world cup qualifier; they also had a +122 goal differential. An early goal and an immediate response after an equalizer proved to be enough to catapult Mexico’s team over its American counterpart to qualify for Germany2011. It was the biggest footie upset of 2010.