Sqaure Peg, Meet Round Hole

The Mexican National team is in North Texas (not to be confused with the Panhandle which is further north… it’s a big state) getting ready for the first of their Gold Cup group matches. They held a training session today at Frisco’s Pizza Hut Park. Star forward, Giovani Dos Santos did some work on his own.

He might have to get used to it.

His coach, Jose Manuel “chepo” de la Torre is one those guys who is stubbornly married to a formation. Can’t fault the guy that much. He did win 3 championships in 4 years (at Chivas and Toluca) using his 4-4-1-1.

The problem for Gio is that the first 1 in the formation seems to be reserved for one Antonio Naelson Sinha, whom Chepo used in that position (the 10, enganche, withdrawn forward, etc) while at Toluca. Sinha is comfortable in the role, and Chepo is comfortable with him.

That shouldn’t be an issue, right? Gio has played in the midfield in the past, just move him over. Ahh, but Chepo prefers his outside midfielders to stay close to the touchlines, mainly to provide centering service. As midfielder, Gio is at his best when he cuts it back inside.

Gio just doesn’t seem to fit Chepo’s system.

And that’s a problem. Gio is too good to leave on the bench.

The big issue for me is Sinha’s best days are well behind him. He also seems to unnecessarily slow down the tempo of the attack when the other players have fired up the throttles. But he’s Chepo’s guy.

It begs the question: would you rather have a coach that looks for players to fit his system, or a coach that bases his system to take advantage of the players’ attributes?

I lean toward a coach that tweaks his own schemes so that the players are in the best possible position to succeed.

Due to the passing of Sinha’s father, Gio is poised to start this Sunday night in Arlington, like he did earlier this week in Denver. He did okay in that one. All he did was score two goals vs. an overmatched New Zealand squad. If he has another sterling performance vs. El Salvador, then all eyes will be on the coach to see if he goes with the guy who satiates his comfort zone, or the one who gives Mexico a much more dynamic offense.

But what would a Gold Cup be without a crisis in the Mexican camp?