The first day of the Gold Cup 2013 and the Mexico vs. Panama match, once again, displayed Mexico’s numerous problems to an upset Pasadena crowd at the Rose Bowl. We can review each mistake that Mexico made today, whether it’d be Chepo’s linear tactics or individual players’ mistakes, but instead, there are important issues that must be addressed in regards to Mexico as a whole.
Yes, while it’s very understandable for the negative criticism that Chepo is receiving, shouldn’t the players be criticized as much, if not more, than their coach?
Mexico’s players’ performances were, in all honesty, comparable to an amateur AYSO team. It seemed as if they were inexperienced at the most basic fundamentals of soccer — passing, ball retention, and movement. The majority of El Tri’s passes were indulged with no creativity, nor was any danger placed behind them…but, I digress. So, without further ado, here are my two very important issues that must be brought up.
It’s not only a recurring problem with Mexico’s A squad, but also with their B squad — movement. For the majority of the match against Panama, Chepo’s men would not make runs down the flanks, nor would they make any coordinated runs down the middle of the field. For example, if Mexico had possession in the middle of the park, whether it’d be Fabian or ‘Chaton’ Enríquez, nobody opened up nor did anybody make a run down the line to pressure Panama’s defense. What Mexico needs to work on immensely is the moving triangles drill. This is where there are three available players forming a triangle in order to open up opportunities throughout the field — it’s simple, yet allows for effective movement on the pitch. Not only that, but moving triangles would eliminate Mexico’s tendency to give up possession so clumsily and so easily. It may seem as a simple concept; however, many teams such as Spain and Germany perfect this technique so well that it is implemented in their team’s philosophy.
Where’s the Professionalism?
All of these players that participated in today’s match against Panama are starters in their respective Liga MX clubs; however, where is their professionalism that qualifies them as a ‘professional’ while playing under El Tricolor? While each player might have his personal life, problems, and adversities to overcome, it does not excuse them from playing as they did in today’s match. Aside from Marco Fabian, I didn’t view any fight or precision from Mexico’s players today. For example, Enríquez, the Chivas man, made passes today that were baffling. There were a couple of passes that were directed at Panama’s defense rather than opening the field to transition Mexico’s plays. Or take Joel Huiqui and Adrian Aldrete in Mexico’s backline who at many instances, seemed so calm at the ball that they forgot about the game completely. Panama would pressure them while in possession but they would continue to retain the ball with no clear idea of where to pass it to and once they did, they lost possession clumsily. It’s instances like this where many of El Tri’s fans will be continuing to exclaim, ‘I can play better than these professionals.’
…What about Chepo?
Aside from the issues that plague Mexico’s players, Chepo, once again, continues to show his number one weakness — his stubbornness. His inability to abandon the same tactics have shown with this B squad, as it did with his senior squad that participated in the Confederations Cup. Not only that, but his player selection with this squad, once again, solidifies his philosophy of age and experience over form. Take Huiqui, once again, and his performance today shows his weakness, which is man marking. Panama’s second goal, as well as other plays, highlight his inability to mark his man. Huiqui was not the only player to fail at marking, but it was also Israel Jimenez and Aldrete who would simply look like they were defending for the first time in their careers.
There’s nothing positive to take from this Mexico performance against Panama. Aside from Fabian’s great goal and work rate, Mexico once again looked like a team that is not ready for another international tournament. It’s also interesting to note that Marco Fabian had, arguably, one of his worst seasons this past year with Chivas yet he still is called up for international duty. And yet, he was Mexico’s best player in today’s match.
Moreover, with two more games ahead of Mexico, they still can qualify for the next round; however, at this rate, Chepo’s team does not look ready for what’s ahead of them. And frankly, that might be what is best for the team and Chepo; who is more than likely heading out the door sooner than later.