Mexico vs. Panama: They Say You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New...

Mexico vs. Panama: They Say You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks…

Mexico vs Panama 1-2
Courtesy of Juan Morales

Who’s to blame in this mess, that is Mexico? Chepo, el tecnico? The multiple sporting directors for El Tri? Or, should the fault be placed upon the entire squad? There’s no single person who is to blame. In fact, it can be argued that Mexico, as a whole, is simply lost.

However, the majority of fans and spectators believe the fault should solely be placed on the coach — Jose Manuel ‘Chepo’ De la Torre. And rightly so, Chepo has been known for his stubborn attitude towards any change to his coaching philosophy and tactics. His stubbornness has not only shown in his team’s downfall at this year’s Gold Cup, but it has also brought down a senior squad back at Brazil for the Confederations Cup.

Make no mistake though, these string of performances from Panama are well worked and well earned. Panama, as of now, have not lost to Mexico since 2007. An impressive statistic that should present the real progress made within Panama’s camp. Additionally, the final, between the United States and Panama, will showcase the tournaments best two teams.

Moreover, this Mexico vs. Panama game will certainly not alleviate any of El Tricolor’s fans. Nor will it give much hope of qualifying for next years World Cup in Brazil. So, now what?

The Double Pivot

Chepo De la Torre should not be sacked right now. It wouldn’t be smart, nor would it be practical for the federation to do this. It would take too much effort in re-establishing new tactics and new connections within the camp. Not to mention that the next World Cup qualifier is dawning soon, so Chepo needs to stay at the moment despite his team’s recent performances. Instead, Chepo needs to adjust the squad, accordingly, as the next World Cup qualifier approaches. He needs to add the backbone that Mexico is crucially missing. A great way to fix this problem is to implement the double pivot. It is those two central-defensive midfielders, in front of the defense, that allow for control of the game. Chepo could utilize and rotate players such Herrera, Zavala, and Torrado in these two crucial positions. In games such as today, Mexico did not have any form, nor did they have any structure. If Mexico will want to even think of getting back into their shape, Chepo must implement the double pivot.

The Gap at Right Back…

Still, to this day, Chepo still has not found a consistent right back. Almost half way through the year and still no solid choice. Layun was the most recent contender to put in an argument for playing in that position; however, in todays match, he failed to stamp his authority to claim that spot. Maybe Chepo will, regardless, call Layun into the senior squad this coming September for World Cup qualifiers. Another candidate that is up in the air is Hiram Mier. He’s always been solid defensively, as well as going forward in support. His last appearance was at the Confederations Cup, but was used sparingly by Chepo. It has been almost a year since Mier played with Mexico’s Olympic squad and it was there where he truly shined at right back. If Chepo can fix this dilemma at right back, then that’s just one more fixed screw in this Mexico team.

Back to the Basics

As silly as it seems, Mexico need to practice on the fundamental building blocks that make soccer what it is. For example, in today’s match, Mexico vs. Panama, El Tricolor were caught making schoolboy errors all over the field. Jimenez’s touch was similar to that of a brick, Huiqui’s decisions were very poor, and Marquez Lugo was missing in action for the majority of the game. These are the mistakes that are supposed to be buffed during the crucial practice sessions with the team. I’m sure the playing field today was not in the best conditions to play soccer, as many reporters noted out on social networking sites; however, simple mistakes such as misplaced passes, bad touches, and lackadaisical runs need to be tremendously worked on behind the scenes.

As Mexico walks out of the Gold Cup empty handed this year, many will not be arguing as to why they were not successful. The fact is that Mexico, honestly, should not have been in the semi-finals. And it’s unfortunate to see continuous results that often leave many fans disappointed. But, this still is Chepo’s team. And unless the old dog is willing to learn any new tricks, consider him gone in no time.



  1. Who’s to blame? The coach or the players? Well, I can tell you one thing…Since the losing streak started the players have been changing constantly while the coach has not. It’s obviously not the players who are losing the game but the lack of knowledge from Chepo on how to put together a great squad with chemistry. Chepo should be replaced and it’s not too late. If you look at the South African World Cup, Hugo Sanchez was replaced by Javier Aguirre last minute and all went well in the tournament except for the awful officiating against Argentina. Chepo needs to be replaced now. I have no doubt Mexico will qualify for the World Cup even if Chepo is still coach but the plan should be to start new not remain the same.

    • I agree with everything you say. It cannot be the players’ fault; I mean, Mexico’s B, lost against Panama’s B ; twice! There is a huge talent gap in there. The problem I see is that it seems that locker room is plagued with bad energy; just look at the players’ and coaches’ faces. It is time for new air to go into the tricolor. I also agree that Mexico will be in the WC with Chepo, however that’s not the problem, the problem is, how well will Mexico play in Brazil if he is the coach?

  2. Completely agree with you Michael! Chepo needs to learn how to adjust the potentially good squad he has and turn it into a great team! And no! Chepo should not be laid off right now, not in the middle of a soccer-busy year for Mexico. Great analysis and recommendations Michael!