It is as inevitable as the sun rising in the east, death, taxes, and the occasional manila envelope thick with cash finding its way into a FIFA official's briefcase. Sooner or later, Mexico fans were going to turn on the National Team coach.
The real surprise is that the good will between coach and fans lasted this long. It is no surprise at all that Miguel "Piojo" Herrera, a coach who never met an endorsement he didn't like, promoted something polarizing. In this case, Mexico's Green Party. Green, in name only, of course.
It all started with a tweet (doesn't it always). This tweet.
The reaction was swift. Journalists accused the coach of proselytizing. They were quick to point out the good relationship the Green Party has with Televisa, the FMF string pullers, and the violation of the FMF Code of Ethics. Which, of course, brought up another question entirely.
The FMF has a code of ethics?
After Mexico's 2-0 loss to Brazil, the last warm up before the Copa America gets going for Mexico on Friday, Herrera defended his position. "I asked the people to vote. And I also told them to vote for their preferences. I said I was backing the Greens, and that's it. I did not ask for anyone to follow me." In a vacuum, Herrera is correct. He merely asked people to vote, and let be known whom he was backing. As media savvy as Piojo is, though, his PR sensors in this case were way off the mark. He has every right to express his personal beliefs, but doing so officially on his Mexico Coach twitter handle was a bad decision. FMF has always been thought of as Televisa's toy, and Televisa has shown major favoritism to the Green Party in this and previous elections. This was a radioactive pool, and Piojo went skinny-dipping in the deep end.
Now on to the Copa America.
What are Mexico's expectations for Copa America, a tournament that Mexico has been a competitor for the past 22 years? Piojo wants to make the final. A nice goal to have, to be sure.
Improving upon the disaster from 2011 might be a little more realistic. The only edition where Mexico did not advance.
Herrera has spent his three prep games doing nothing more than observing players. Piojo sent out 3 different line-ups for each contest. It is not a bad thing, and he did the same in the lead up to the World Cup. But this is not his full side where guys have been playing together for years. Some of these cats have barely even met, much less played together. Does Piojo have enough dry powder in this alternate squad to blow holes through the competition? Let's have a look.
Goal keeping -- All three keepers got a look, but the battle looks to be between Jose de Jesus Corona and Alfredo Talavera. Corona may be the solid choice, but a few bad memories came to surface when he was beaten badly at the near post by Philiipe Coutinho, namely his regrettable performance vs. Italy in the 2013 Confed Cup.. Alfredo Talavera should get the nod.
Defense - As long as Piojo plays with 5 at the back, he will need to find 3 solid central defenders. Mexico struggles to find 3 defenders on the first team. So this group is at best iffy. Rafa Marquez returns to the tournament that jumpstarted his career back in 1999, and is hoping to retire internationally after this tourney. It is even money as to whether or not that happens after a red card. Chivas' best defender, Carlos Salcedo is the one to watch here. Perhaps his career will get a similar boost. It is unfortunate that Pachuca's starlet, Miguel Herrera Equihua was lost to injury. The wingbacks are not the best, but since two if them have to play, let's go for Santos' Adrian Aldrete and Cruz Aazul's Jerry Flores.
Midfielders - Xolos provides Herera with a real bulldog in Javier Güemez, who can help cover for the defensive deficiencies. Tecatito Corona has proven to be Mexico's best player (by far) in the lead in games. His tends to be a ball hog, though, and needs to learn to beat a double team. To be fair, his teammates need to learn to help him. There are others who have the talent to make significant contributions: Marco Fabian runs hot and cold and has lately been cold. When he gets hot, though, he can be extremely dangerous.
Forwards - Raul Jimenez has yet to shake of the dust he collected sitting on Atletico's bench this season. Pumas' Lalo Herrera has scored when given the chance, but his decent finishing skills do not outweigh his clumsiness in the open field. Enrique Esqueda seems to play his best ball in South America, but he plays there every 5 years or so. The bottom line is no one will make their opponents knees shake. So, it is not out of the question to see the versatile Tecatito Corona play up top.
Mexico will play Bolivia, hosts Chile, and Ecuador in the group stage. The chances are good that they can make to the knockouts. And that is about it. Unless Mexico wins the group (they won't), they would face either Brazil or Colombia for coming in 2nd, Argentina or Uruguay if they squeak in as a 3rd place side. Not an easy task for even Mexico's full side. An alternate side?
Not even the Green Party may be able to make that happen. As far as we know, anyway.