“I can’t show my hand to the enemy. The more I say, the more ammo for them,” said a confident Chepo De La Torre at the press conference in anticipation for Mexico’s game versus Honduras.
Ironically, quite the opposite happened to El Tri during tonight’s game in which they lost, 1-2, conceding two second-half goals. Instead of Chepo utilizing his ‘ammo,’ he quickly found that his ‘ammo’ was only to be depleted within the first forty-five minutes of the match.
Once the second half began, it was apparent that Mexico lost their edge; a fatal mistake that may cost them their ticket for next year’s World Cup. However, credit must be given to Honduras, who, not only answered once, but answered twice in succession to a rowdy Azteca crowd. Carlos Costly, in particular, was the spark to ignite the comeback from Honduras; first, by providing the rebound that Bengston pounced on to level the score, and secondly by taking advantage of a horrid moment from the youngster, Diego Reyes.
By the time it was 2-1, there was little hope for Mexico in coming back. Fans in the Azteca by this time were chanting ‘Fuera Chepo,’ as well as ‘Ole’-ing’ Honduras’ every pass in retaliation to Mexico’s performance on the field.
So, now what? There is no arguing that Chepo, as most coaches, will receive the most criticism for his team’s uninspiring performances in the hex. And rightly so, Chepo has failed to implement a clear vision for qualifying into next year’s World Cup. Additionally, the ‘Fuera Chepo’ sentiment will be shared with many Mexico fans; however, once again, El Tri’s problems are more complicated.
Appalling Determination from El Tricolor
As Mexico’s solid first half finished, their uninspired second half was barely beginning. Mexico kept possession for the opening minutes, but their lack of motivation to attack on goal allowed for Honduras to come running on the counter-attacks much more easily. Because of this, and due to lackadaisical defending, Mexico suffered a quick one-two punch from Honduras. During all this however, Mexico response was appalling. None of the players from Mexico looked to change the attitude of the game with any determination. Passes were wasteful, movement was abundant, and more importantly, the sense of urgency from each individual was very shameful. At this point, Mexico are all but eliminated from their hex. They would need to win the last three games, in hope of other teams losing or winning, in order to qualify for next years World Cup.
Chepo to stay, or to go?
Update: As of Saturday morning, Chepo will no longer be head coach of the Mexican National Team. Chepo was released, and Tena will take over as interim head coach for Tuesday’s match against the USA.
Aside from individual flaws today on the field, Chepo’s line-up was decent, if at best. For one reason: starting Torrado over an in form Hector Herrera. Knowing that this match versus Honduras was as crucial as ever, Chepo insisted to opt with Torrado in the center of the park once again. I have no problem with Torrado, his experience and solidity in midfield is welcomed; however, his age isn’t helping when Mexico is confronted against young, fast teams. Hector Herrera, in many ways, should solve the problem in the middle. Unfortunately, he has not started in recent games with El Tri. As a lesson, maybe a lesson learned too late, Chepo will learn that young blood is crucial in games such as these. Sure, experience is much more preferable, but for the situation Chepo has dug himself into, it cannot hurt to start a bright, talented player such as Herrera. It’s Chepo’s unwillingness to alternate players during important games, such as today’s against Honduras, that will indefinitely land him without a job; but more importantly, leaving Mexico out of next year’s World Cup.
It’s time for a change. Albeit, many fans will unanimously say it’s the coach that needs changing; however, it’s quite clear the team, as a whole, needs to be overhauled. Today’s ‘Aztecazo’ speaks a loud truth — Mexico were outplayed at their home. The Azteca, a fortress known in world soccer. Just go on Twitter and search the hashtag ‘#Aztecazo’ and you’ll see how big it is for Honduras’ and their fans.
If this isn’t Mexico’s wake up call, i honestly don’t know what is.