Reading Between the Headlines

As we start to stomach the loss to Costa Rica and the questionable lucky pass to the playoffs, the media’s headlines and comments from higher-ups in the Mexican soccer world give us a window into the causes behind the mess the Tri has been during this qualifying season.

The headline that draws the most attention to me is the one coming from the Chivas camp: “Chivas would sacrifice its squad for the Tri”. Obviously, as fans following Liga MX, it seems crazy to source the Tri with Chivas given their poor form in the current season. However, this does tell us that either Chivas or other teams limited the amount of resources they made available to the National Team. I am no expert of soccer team management, but I do believe that it takes a considerable logistical and funding effort to assemble and train a group of individuals into a cohesive team; and compared to the LigaMX teams, the FMF does not have a regular cash source to fund players, coaches, support staff and travel pay. So the FMF and the Tri is heavily reliant on resources made available to them by the LigaMX ownership teams.

Before we bring out the torches and pitchforks against the team owners, I think it is important to step back and understand their point of view. In years past, the bulk of the Tri would quite frequently be composed of players coming from two or three teams that had the best Mexican players at the time. The problem with this setup was that, after the players performed with the Tri, they would have injuries or be tired, causing the core of their team to be underperforming  and losing ground in the not so easy to win but highly profitable LigaMX. The team owners would be very annoyed with this because they could not use their most expensive assets for the role they were hired for. A certain balance between National Team and LigaMX play had to be reached.

Another interesting commentary came from La Volpe saying “There is no change in the style of play”. While this may seem a jab at Vucetich and is probably an effort on his part to remain in the public light as a manager eligible for the Tri or other teams in the future, it also reminds us that with the change of coach from Chepo to Vucetich, we should have seen a considerable change in the way players are selected and not just a change in the form the team is motivated. To me, it seems that Vucetich did pick the best set of players available to him; unfortunately picking the top of everything does not give necessarily the best working combination. Combining the best caviar with the best handmade tortillas and pairing them with a top vintage wine make a horrible combination. If we look closely at the team Vucetich fielded against Costa Rica, we notice that no team gave more than two players…

Which brings us to another interesting headline coming from Vucetich himself: “Lobos did not line-up due to tactical reasons”. Really?! The coach went through all the media trouble of calling up another naturalized player, knowing in advance who the opponents were and to some extent what their tactics were going to be, to bench him both games? Why not tell us the tactical reason then? The “tactical” reason seems to me the Hector Moreno injury. This does not make much sense because Hector Moreno is a central defender… But if there is a limit of players that each team can contribute, you cannot play Marquez, Peña and Magallón or Lobos, Torres Nilo and Ayala. So Vucetich had to pick the best defensive partnership and adopt his midfield accordingly. He ended up going with the already formed partnership between Torres Nilo and Ayala and bench Lobos.

Now that we are at the brink of elimination, I really hope that the LigaMX ease what is given to the Tri; the coach’s hands seems to be pretty tied and is making the best he can with ingredients that don’t go well together. Everyone should realize that fans, players, owners, TV stations, sponsors ALL lose should Mexico not make the World Cup and there is no time left to dick around with a patchwork team.


** This photo is used under a Creative Commons license by ocularinvasion

 

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