On Sunday, no controversial penalties or leaders like an Andres Guardado were available to help save Mexico.
After failing to do much in the attack during the semifinal clash, and producing countless inaccurate crosses, El Tri later allowed a late game-winner from Jamaica’s Kemar Lawrence in the 88th minute. If you haven’t had a chance to see the goal, you need to watch it now.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 24, 2017
Say what you will about goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona’s positioning, but the placement from Lawrence was incredible for the late opportunity that secured a victory. Now, with a win in hand, the Reggae Boyz will take on the United States this Wednesday for the Gold Cup title.
As for Mexico, well, there’s plenty to unwrap here.
Although manager Juan Carlos Osorio entered the competition with a backup roster, and a six-game suspension, a spot in the final was still expected for El Tri. As for the squad, much of the blame must also be put on several fringe players who failed to take advantage of their opportunities in the tournament. Looking further, we could also begin to question the FMF altogether, but that’s an entirely different article in itself.
Simply put: Mexico’s “B” team wasn’t able to reach expectations in the Gold Cup. Deeming it as a failure might be a stretch, but you’ll also seldom find many El Tri fans who will go out of their way to call the overall performance in the CONCACAF tournament a success.
Here are three talking points from the journey Mexico had through the Gold Cup:
1. Pressure has significantly increased on Osorio
First things first, the manager won’t be fired. Barring a horrendous run of form in the remaining World Cup qualifying matches, the Colombian will likely still be leading the national team into Russia 2018.
That said, Osorio hasn’t helped to win over new supporters during or after the Gold Cup. The manager’s infamous rotations made appearances during the group stage, and though he toned them down during the knockout round, there are now more fans than ever who are angry with Osorio.
The pressures of being the Mexican national team coach are immense, and whether you win, lose or draw, there will always be an incessant amount of scrutiny from supporters and the media. Osorio was well aware of this before taking the job, but that might not be enough to deflect any underlying frustration or emotions that are impacted by this constant tension.
This might seem like a strange idea, but one can’t help but think if Osorio will be the one who decides to leave the national team before they would consider firing him. Which isn’t to say that he will ditch his project in the near future, but given another bad result or two, it will be interesting to see if the manager has a breaking point.
— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) July 24, 2017
2. New generation of players failed to step up
Fuera Osorio? It’s fair to criticize the manager, but where is the same outrage for the players?
More specifically, where is the same level of criticism for up-and-coming talents who failed to make a name for themselves in the Gold Cup?
Options such as Orbelin Pineda, Erick Gutierrez, Jesus Gallardo and Rodolfo Pizarro were at times lost in starting XI. This isn’t an issue of being played out of position either. Even when they were given minutes in their natural positions, these promising figures, and a few others, never truly maintained a positive influence for the national team.
Against Jamaica, Pizarro was constantly lost in the midfield, Gutierrez was far too quiet and Pineda lacked a serious amount of creativity. Another name like Erick “Cubo” Torres somehow moved another place or two down in Mexico’s striker depth chart after his performances in the CONCACAF tournament.
With the exception of Edson Alvarez, and maybe Raul Lopez, El Tri’s new generation of players were all very disappointing.
I’ve been expecting to see a good performance from Gutierrez but he’s been underwhelming all tournament such a shame #ElTriEng
— Even (@2Even) July 24, 2017
3. This might be the last time we see a number of players for the national team
Perhaps what was most surprising was the fact that more starters didn’t try to stand out for the team. With all of the best options for Mexico being rested after the Confederations Cup, this year’s Gold Cup was set to be a last chance for plenty of players.
Hedgardo Marin, Martin Barragan, Luis Rodriguez and Jorge Hernandez are just a few in a long list of Mexican backups who might not earn another call-up for El Tri. Given a good tournament, these overlooked names might have been able to fight for a last second spot in next year’s World Cup roster.
More disappointing than anything that Osorio or his management did was the surprising number of players who weren’t eager enough to shine.
— Thomas M. Buckley (@TomBuckley519) July 24, 2017
Mexico’s best player against Jamaica — Edson Alvarez
The argument could be made here that Alvarez was Mexico’s most consistent and dependable player in the Gold Cup. While others constantly faltered around him, the 19-year-old regularly emerged as a hard-working and reliable presence in the backline and midfield.