The wildly animated Mexican head coach, Miguel Herrera, has been discharged of his duties after a physical incident that took place at the Philadelphia Airport on Monday. Just the day before, the Mexican National team took home the Gold Cup in a 3-1 match against Jamaica, a very quick turn of events from celebration to unemployment.
Herrera, also known as, El Piojo allegedly threw a punch at Christian Marinoli’s neck in the TSA line at the airport. A month earlier, the Azteca reporter and coach got into a tweeting war ending in a threat from Herrera stating, “I am not that but hopefully I will find you someplace so we can settle our differences.” after being called a “barrabrava” or “hooligan”. Herrera and his family had been a target of scrutiny after the ups and downs of Mexico’s performance in the Copa America and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Interestingly, according to Luis Garcia, another Azteca reporter who was with Merinoli during the incident, stated that he received a smack from Herrera’s daughter as well. When Garcia intervened to break up the brawl, he received an unfriendly slap.
Herrera had a strong track record with the Mexican National team, having 18 wins, 11 ties and 7 losses over his 2 year span as head coach. He became the fourth Mexican coach in one month when he took over El Tri complications in October 2013 and was recruited with a full-time position a month later. He also qualified the team for the World Cup after 9-3 aggregate victory over New Zealand. His coaching through the 16th round of the World Cup in Brazil was enough to win a contract extension into 2015.
However, his performance lately has been heavily criticized. His victory over Panama was highly controversial with questionable referee calls and penalty kicks. Andres Guardo scored twice from the calls and resulted in a 2-1 win. The Panamanian FA commented that the calls were “insulting and embarrassing”, and accused the officiators as favoring the Mexican team in a “vulgar and shameless way”.
Herrera himself was sheepish after the victory over Panama: “It’s not ideal. The first wasn’t a penalty, and the fact is we didn’t deserve to win the match because we didn’t play at all well.”
Incoming federation president Decio de Maria made the final decision to relieve Herrera from his head coach position. He states, “After listening to all my colleagues, I have made the decision to take Miguel Herrera out of the national team. It is not a simple decision, but it is the correct one. Matches never finish, and as public figures we have to keep that in mind. Everyone has had an opinion, but our values have to be kept, and no one can be above the type of situation we saw on Monday at the Philadelphia airport.”
The replacement of Herrera is still unknown. The next match for the Mexican National team is a friendly one on September 4th vs. Trinidad and Tobago. In October, it faces regional rival the United States in a qualifying playoff for the 2017 Confederations Cup.