SOCCER

Mexican teams are struggling with problems on and off the pitch. Can he fix the ship before the World Cup?

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A dark period has enveloped Mexico soccer.

In the space of 13 months, we have seen: Mexico’s senior men’s national team fail to win the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup, four games in a row without a win against their US rivals, the U20 men’s team unable to earn invitations to the 2023 U20 World Cup and 2024 Olympics, and the Senior Women’s National Team did not qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2024 Olympics.

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Off the field, disturbing news then emerged on Thursday when the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) announced that it had temporarily suspended the technical staff of the U20 women’s team, due to an internal investigation. ESPN Mexico reported on Wednesday that coach Maribel Dominguez is being investigated for a “serious” matter.

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Amid the mess, layoffs — and plenty of questions — surfaced.

After a disappointing run without a single goal or point for manager Monica Vergara and El Tri Femenil in this month’s CONCACAF W Championship, FMF President Yon de Luisa announced sweeping changes last Wednesday. Gerardo Torrado and Ignacio Hierro have been fired as General Sporting Director and National Teams Sporting Director respectively. Moreover, Luis Perez was dismissed as U20 men’s coach.

“The results achieved in recent weeks by the U20 men’s team and the senior women’s national team, which have dealt a severe blow to Mexican football, and above all, to our fans, force us to act,” said De Luisa, two days after Mexico. elimination from CONCACAF W.

In a subsequent press conference on Thursday, De Luisa announced the hiring of Jaime Ordiales in a new role as sporting director for the men’s national teams. As part of a restructuring of the FMF, a sports director for women’s national teams, who will be responsible for assessing whether Vergara should stay or be dismissed, will also be announced in the coming days.

Regarding Dominguez’s situation, De Luisa kept a low profile during Thursday’s press conference.

“As we communicated a few hours ago, the [July 18] we have received a request for an investigation. At the time this document reached us, we started with the protocols already established in the Mexican Football Federation for a case of this type. The investigation is ongoing and while it is ongoing we obviously cannot comment,” De Luisa said.

Ordiales, among other recruits to follow, will have the mission of stopping the regression which has impacted several levels of the FMF which are missing the World Cups, the Olympic Games and the major regional trophies. Off the pitch, they must also seek to avoid internal and alleged issues that are currently being investigated at women’s U20 level.

De Luisa praised the former national team player, who will now end his role as sporting director at Cruz Azul, as someone with the “ability to analyze players at a time when the roster we’re going with going to a World Cup is going to be defined, his ability to work as a team, [and] his ability as a negotiator.

That said, it’s an overstatement to say that Ordiales is a unique rookie in the world of Mexican football. With Cruz Azul, he worked in the front offices of Atlas, Club America, Necaxa, Chivas and Queretaro. Having someone rooted in the domestic scene is essential when the World Cup is only months away, but looking ahead may not provide a fresh perspective until 2026.

What about Martino’s future as the World Cup approaches?

Ordiales’ relationship with senior coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino will also prove insightful. Although Martino has been safe from dismissals this month, that hasn’t stopped rumors that the Argentine wants to jump ship after November’s World Cup in Qatar. According to The Athletic, Martino will leave the national team once his contract ends in December.

Changes are coming and already happening for Sorting, but time will tell if everything will turn out for the best. Like the latest crest and green kits that have been revealed for the national team, the modifications are simply nothing more than a simple change of uniform on the pitch and costumes at the FMF headquarters.

Being the traditional male powerhouse in the region doesn’t necessarily drive innovation or thinking outside the box, and while other national teams are making significant progress in men’s, women’s and youth tournaments, Mexico appear to be stagnating with worrying results. which become less of an anomaly and more of a startling norm.

This also extends to Liga MX. At club level on the men’s side, the Premier League came away without silverware from the last Campeones Cup, CONCACAF Champions League and MLS All-Star Game. Unfortunately, when it comes to Mexico’s top flight, the biggest story to emerge in 2022 so far has been the distressing fan violence that erupted in a Querétaro game against Atlas in March.

Player development, important minutes for national names in Liga MX, enticing more players to move abroad; these are all well-known issues that need to be improved. Even in women’s football where Liga MX Femenil is growing and undoubtedly developing promising stars, better salaries must be provided to help those players who need more financial support. As seen in the CONCACAF W Championship, other countries are also rapidly developing their own stars, several of whom have shone while those of El Tri Femenil stumbled.

And if things look bleak now, they could get worse once November rolls around.

Heading into the Men’s World Cup in Qatar, which will be the most important test and measuring stick for Mexican football since Russia 2018, Martino and his players have looked far from their best.

Despite finishing second in the CONCACAF octagonal draw for World Cup qualifying, Sorting often ground up tense, jittery results that are low-scoring and without much creativity in the final third. The games were frustrating to watch as Mexico ran into constant complications with chemistry and decision-making in attack. Songs of “Fuera Tata“(Tata Out) has become commonplace in matches, whether home or away.

Of the World Cup-related teams Mexico have faced since 2021 (Canada, USMNT, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay), Martino and his players have stumbled to two wins in 11 matches (with four draws), scoring just seven time. and allowing 13 goals. In the last four of those games, Mexico failed to score a single goal.

Time is running out before November’s World Cup, and after looking at the events that have unfolded across the FMF, it looks like Qatar could turn out to be the bitter icing on a miserable cake for Mexican football.

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