Mexico Football: 10 Reasons Why They're No Longer at the Top of CONCACAF
Mexico is the giant of CONCACAF, or at least that's what people used to say. Today things have changed quite a bit. El Tri has faced some tough tests, but others seemed to be quite easy and Mexico still couldn't overcome even those.
With other CONCACAF teams closing the gap, Mexico needs to improve if they want to take the lead role in the confederation.
So, why is El Tri no longer the top team? Let's find out.
The "Gentlemen's Pact" (Pacto de Caballeros) is something that everybody knows exists, but only a few recognize it.
It is a deal between some agents, coaches, club owners and the Mexican Football Federation that consists of calling certain players to international meetings; taking into consideration sponsorship and personal favors.
In the past World Cup, media, fans and some managers said that the Pacto de Caballeros was the real enemy of El Tri, because it didn't allow players like Javier Hernández to play as much, despite his going through a better moment than, say, Guillermo Franco.
Do you remember when Mexico was ranked fourth in the world according to FIFA? That was from February to June 1998 and May-June 2006.
Now, El Tri sits 22nd. Sure, it's the best ranked CONCACAF team, but the fact is others like the United States keep gaining spots rapidly.
The last time Mexico went up was in November 2011. Ever since, the squad has either stayed the same or fell back.
Who can forget the 2011 Copa América incident? Eight Mexican players were kicked off from the team as they invited women to their hotel rooms.
All of them received a six-month ban from El Tri and were fined with 50,000 Mexican pesos ($4,000 give or take).
Despite the efforts of the Mexican Football Federation to help local youngsters, the clubs keep signing foreign players, mainly from South America.
Chivas de Guadalajara is the only club whose roster is completely made up of Mexican players.
This makes a big difference with other national teams for a simple reason: Young footballers get a chance to play.
Mexican players have always had a problem when it comes to being mentally strong. They certainly play well against big teams—Brazil, Spain and Italy—but have a hard time with some that aren't as powerful, such as Colombia and Venezuela.
El Tri usually plays at the pace the rival sets, which is one of its biggest mistakes and disadvantages. They also lose their head in key moments.
Other Teams Are Getting Better
Yes, other teams are getting better by the minute. For instance, the US national team.
After missing nine World Cups from 1954 to 1986, they played in Italy in 1990 and 12 years later, they reached the quarterfinals.
El Tri has also reached that stage, but only in 1970 and 1986 when Mexico hosted the World Cup.
Since José Manuel de la Torre took over, Mexico's toughest test was against Brazil—they lost the meeting 2-1.
Colombia, Venezuela, Serbia and New Zealand are some of the teams El Tri has faced. Other CONCACAF squads have played against Italy, Spain, France, Argentina, to name a few.
In order to improve, Mexico needs to be challenged, which will only happen if it starts having meetings with the best in the world.
Too Much Politics
Justino Compeán, president of the Mexican Football Federation, and Decio de Maria, secretary general, have been pointed out by players and managers as the real problem behind El Tri.
After five players tested positive for Clenbuterol at the Gold Cup, Hugo Sánchez wrote that Compeán and De María didn't handle the matter as they were supposed to.
In 2010, part of the squad organized a party after a friendly match against Colombia and soon media was all over the issue. De María contradicted himself and the footballers announced they wouldn't play if Néstor de la Torre continued as head coach, who resigned a couple of weeks later.
The team needs to start looking for players that can replace veterans like Rafael Márquez, Gerardo Torrado and Carlos Salcido.
It's true that the boss has tried several youngsters like Torres Nilo, but the squad still depends heavily on the old guard.
Youngsters Get No Continuity
Mexico has won the FIFA U-17 World Championship twice in 2005 and 2011.
It's been seven years since the Niños Héroes (Boy Heroes) accomplished the feat for the first time. It's a fairly good period to work with them toward being part of the first team.
Can you name one of those footballers that succeeded as expected?