Carlos Hermosillo represented Mexico in the 1994 World Cup, the 1995 Confederations Cup and the 1995 Copa America. He is currently a commentator on FOX Deportes' leading soccer sports program, La Ultima Palabra.
In a 13-year span, Hermosillo scored 35 times with El Tri, a record he shares with Javier Hernandez and Luis Hernandez (not related) and that set him as the team's third-highest scorer.
Hermosillo talked to Bleacher Report in a recent interview about Mexico's football crisis and what the players and the manager must do in the crucial games against Panama and Costa Rica.
Bleacher Report: Can you describe what Mexico will face against Panama and Costa Rica?
Carlos Hermosillo: The players need to understand that this is a very important game because everything is at stake. If we do not get a good result against Panama we would be saying goodbye to the World Cup and that would be very tragic for Mexican football. This is a live-or-die situation.
B/R: The Mexican Football Federation gave Jose Manuel de la Torre continuity. Was it a good decision?
CH: You cannot judge or kill de la Torre. A couple of years ago he was like a god, now he is not. We came to this Hexagonal in a bad moment and it happens. The responsibility relies in everybody not just on the manager. The players are the ones that are on the pitch. If they like the strategy or not they still have to give their best and I did not see that.
B/R: What does Victor Manuel Vucetich need to do to turn things around?
CH: He needs to promote trust and communicate his plans and strategies clearly. He needs to give the players freedom and let them flow on the pitch. Of course the strategy is crucial but he cannot restrain the players. Mexico have had very few scoring opportunities so far. I hope that Vucetich have worked in a way to get to the rival’s goal regularly.
B/R: What does it mean for a player to represent its country in a World Cup?
CH: To play a Hexagonal and a World Cup is the most sacred thing for a player. Not many footballers make it to the national team because the coach picks only those that are going through their best moment. Representing Mexico is huge; just imagine how many people travel to support the team in hope to see them win.
B/R: What's the feeling in a locker room when the team is in a moment like this?
CH: Not good. It’s an uptight and quiet locker room. It needs security, confidence and happiness.
B/R: We often hear that Mexico should defeat the CONCACAF teams easily, but it's not always like that—why?
CH: It’s a problem that we all have, media and fans. Sometimes, we underestimate them. I think it has to do with the fact that Mexico had never had so many footballers playing in Europe. I think that El Tri are better than any other team in CONCACAF, but right now they are not proving it on the pitch.
B/R: Why El Tri are not showing their status as favorite?
CH: It’s a combination of things. I did not see the players at their best, none of them. I do not know if they have lost the respect or enthusiasm of what it means to represent a national team. I see that some footballers reject caps without breaking a sweat. When the coach calls you, you go, period. Also, the players earn quite well and that’s good, but I don’t think they value what it means to represent their country and what could mean for Mexico to be eliminated. Finally, I believe there are too many naturalized players in the squad, especially if you consider that this country has 120 million inhabitants.
B/R: Who should have been called instead of the naturalized footballers?
CH: That is 'the' question. Personally, I do not know which players, but what I can tell you is that I have never agreed with having naturalized. If they were as good as they say, they would have been playing for their own country or Mexico’s results should have been better. Christian Gimenez became one more player on the team. I think we do have players that could cover those positions.
B/R: Now that you went there, we have had great results with the U-17, U-20 and U-23 squads but there is no continuity—why?
CH: Unfortunately, the managers have to deliver results in short time because that is how the local league works. If they fail, they are sacked so they trust in experienced players and foreigners. It’s a huge mistake because it means that the youngsters will stay on the bench. So it is useless that you have won two U-17 World Cups and an Olympic medal if those footballers do not make their debut in the Liga MX.
B/R: But little by little we have seen a handful of youngsters that have made it to the first team. Isn’t this effort enough?
CH: We have seen this in a few teams, not in all. For example, around 90 percent of the strikers playing in the Liga MX are foreigners or naturalized. The rest are Mexican and just a handful of them are youngsters. Some coaches like Miguel Herrera have given them a shot, for instance Raul Jimenez, who is a great player and we all hope that he performs great with El Tri.
B/R: Should he start in the World Cup qualifiers over Javier Hernandez and Oribe Peralta?
CH: I think that in life there are processes. Oribe is one of the best Mexican footballers right now. Chicharito has proven to be great, too. Every coach and every fan have a different lineup, but those who play must do it for Mexico. It’s a shame that we are struggling and settling for the playoff.