With the FIFA World Cup within sight, teams are shifting into a higher gear, in order to reach the biggest stage in sports. Some are propelling themselves, as legit contenders. Mexico meanwhile is sticking to a timeless narrative. Failure.
Let it be clear. El Tri is not a powerhouse like France, Brazil, or Germany. But, before getting a chance at pulling off upsets, the team needs to do some soul searching.
Mexico’s rivalry with the United States is an eighty year old back-and-forth duel. ‘Depressing’ isn’t a strong enough feeling, to describe how it feels to support this team. When they get overconfident, it’s best to lower your expectations. Beating teams like Guatemala, Salvador, and Honduras are not accomplishments. It’s routine, and it’s never known when one of those units can unexpectedly turn the tables.
Earlier this year, the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League concluded, for the 2019-2020 season. What better way to end a new tournament than by having bitter rivals meet at the end.
The game was closely contested, starting with Jesus Corona’s two minute goal. But it was premature celebration. Regular time wasn’t enough, so now the 2-2 game went into OT. Just before the game could go into a penalty-shootout, Mexico fouled Christian Pulisic, inside their own penalty box.
This resurrected the 2014 World Cup wound, when Netherland’s Argen Robben drew a penalty, in the closing moments of the match. Mexico was sent packing via PK.
Pulisic converted on the penalty, to crown the USMNT champions.
Literally, the story repeated itself, in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Less than two months later. A promising story, and the potential for redemption. And Mexico conceded in the closing stages of the match. That’s two in a row.
0-3 To Finish the Year
Their recent encounter was a 2022 World Cup qualifier. This is where Mexico could have made a statement, to boost fan moral, and erase doubts. Once again, Mexico was overconfident in its ability and squad. Goalkeeper Memo Ochoa’s pregame comments aged badly. “Mexico is the mirror in which the United States wants to see itself.” The US’ response was a rocket goal by Pulisic, with his shirt saying “Man in the mirror”. Ego burner right there. Weston McKennie hit the nail on the coffin, with an 85th minute goal.
As a fan of this team, there aren’t enough negative emotions to feel towards the squad. Depressing, agonizing, discouraging are at the surface level. Mexico has pulled surprises before. Still, fans can’t be subject to this torturous suspense, and hope for a miracle turnover.
The US completely deserves those wins, and the bragging rights. Mexico’s well earned prize is complete humiliation. What changes are needed? Coaching? Revamped squad? Time will tell.