Weekend at Joely’s

In the first of what will surely be a series of captivating installments, Soccerchronicle.com columinists John Jagou and Joel Aceves will publish their weekly conversation. The first of edition of this new feature, Weekend at Joely’s, expands on a topic that they both discussed on the dos a zero futbol podcast, the decision by FMF to limit Liga MX gameday rosters with only 8 Mexican nationals.

John Jagou:  Earlier this week, FMF decided to “limit” the number of foreign and naturalized players to 10 per convocación, which would only leave room for 8 natural born Mexicans to dress for a game. What do you think the motivation was for FMF to do this?

 

Joel Aceves:  It’s all about ratings. The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) is run by two competing media conglomerates whose main interest is selling the product of futbol. That said, the availability of football from the world’s top leagues makes FMF believe that in order to maintain fan interest they need to bring in high profile players.  That makes sense but the reality is for every Gignac we get 30 Fantiks.  FMF is foolhardy to believe that a Mexican kid will watch Champions League, La Liga, EPL, then go to Liga MX stadium and be bored. They completely overlook the cultural aspect of the sport and the fact that only a handful of Euroclubs play consistently exciting games. While that same kid can watch Barcelona on tv he still won’t get the excitement that comes with going to the stadium, being part of the club that represents your community and feel pride at their achievements.

 

JJ:  It doesn’t seem to make sense, though. Mexico’s structure, at least at the U-Level for the national team has enjoyed unprecedented success over the past 10 years.  It would seem logical, then that the FMF and the member clubs would give the youngsters as many opportunities as possible to see how much better they can become. Limiting the player pool to 154, while allowing 170 spots to foreigners or naturalized players, when we take it face value, seems to be a very quick way to throw away all the progress that has been made.

Now, there are some who will argue that you can’t just give a player a spot, he has to earn it. And there is plenty of truth to that. If a kid beats out the veterans and foreigners, then there is no question that he is a special talent. But there are so many who don’t really blossom until later in their careers – mainly because their limited opportunities stunted their growth. Oribe is a perfect example.  How many others make their top level debut after the age of 24?  Too many.

 

JA:  I absolutely agree with you that this new rule does not make sense but we have been seeing it since the 05 U17 World Cup win. Very few players since then have gotten opportunities despite the constant success at the youth levels. It almost feels like Liga MX despises their own talent. A few years back the league had implemented the brilliant 20-11 rule, which guaranteed youngsters playing time, and clubs fought tooth and nail to get it removed. It also becomes difficult for Mexican upstarts to compete for a first team place given the short season format that demands instant results. So, clubs would rather bet on a 2nd rate foreigner than nurture their own talent.

As a Chivas fan, I can already see some of the adverse effects the increased amount of foreigners in the league is causing. The club has a very difficult time in the transfer market as there are fewer quality local players available. Chivas desperately needs a striker for next season. A quick look at Liga MXs top 10 goalscorers shows us that there’s only one Mexican player, ironically its Oribe the late bloomer who plays for the dreaded rival, America. He is on the wrong side 30, so his career is winding down. Ideally there should be 3-4 Mexicans on that list and its worrisome that having very little presence is a non-issue for the league.

 

JJ:  Frankly, it is not surprising that there are so few Mexicans among the top scorers. Clubs tend to shop internationally for strikers almost exclusively.  But back to Chivas; the club has a small pool to pick from, and then also has to pay a premium for talent as well because of their personnel policies. The answer for Chivas, at a minimum, is to heavily invest in their youth system. But with Jorge Vergara changing coaches every time he feels a breeze cool his rosy cheeks, he continually sabotages his most sustainable method of talent acquisition.

A lot of this foreign influence also has to do with promoters (which I quite haven’t figured out how different they are from agents) who have embedded themselves in certain teams. They will make more money, no doubt. The bright spot, though, is Pachuca. Their youth system has become Mexico’s most productive. They won the U17 and the U20 Champs this season and are not afraid to give young players chances. There should be more like them, but with this new rule, the incentive is not to make the investment in the future. It is a shame, there are a lot of talented youngsters with nowhere to go.

 

JA:  Pachuca are indeed a good example that it is possible to nurture talent and have foreigners. In addition to their youth success, Tuzos finished the season 2nd in the table. But this is the exception, not the rule.  With the wheels are already in motion for most clubs to easily build up squads with foreign born players, Liga MX will soon mirror the English Premier League with matches having 1-3 nationals on the field.

 

JJ:  Exactly. I guess that is the existential question FMF needs to ask itself. “Do we sacrifice our own identity to make a move that we think will make our league better? Do we improve Liga MX at the expense of the Mexican player?”

England has a top flight, entertaining league that is popular all over the world. England’s national team has made 2 semifinals in international tournaments over the past 50 years. One would think that England would look to the Continent for inspiration, but why would the foreign owners of EPL teams care if the 3 Lions did well at a World Cup? What is their motivation?  On the other hand, Germany was humiliated in 2004 by crashing out of the group stage of the Eurocopa. They committed to overhaul their entire youth and development structure to limit the chances of a repeat performance. I say, so far so good. Italy did the same after their 2010 fracaso. It is true that the Italian league has suffered and may not be as strong as others in Europe, but they have also committed to strengthening the player pool. We will probably start seeing if they were successful or not soon.

One thing none of these countries have, though, is a rule that forces them to play locals like the new FMF rule. But they are also in the EU, so I guess it is moot. Nevertheless, Mexican players may need to start looking elsewhere to make a living.

 

JA:  On that note Major League Soccer must be licking their chops with all the possibilities that will open to them. They have always gone after Mexican talent given the large Mexican community in the U.S and for the most part have been unsuccessful. Either the aging star is burned out or the younger player never adapts. We’ve seen a shift in this however with Giovani Dos Santos joining the league in his prime. We’ve also seen relative unknown youngsters rise up to get called into the national team or return to Mexico with Erik ‘Cubo’ Torres and Carlos Salcedo being prime examples.

So, it is a very good possibility that we will see more and more young Mexican talent flourishing in MLS, being capped for youth national team, and then either going abroad or returning to Mexico.

 

JJ:  They should be licking their chops, and, coincidentally, MLS commissioner, Don Garber, spoke to the Mexican press about his desire to bring in more Mexican talent into the league. It makes nothing but sense. The demographics of the MLS fan base indicate as much. Not to mention the fact that MLS hopes to expand to 28 teams. 28 teams!  There are a lot of roster spots available to fill the 8 new franchises. I am not so sure the NCAA system can fill it all. The irony of a situation where MLS catches up competitively to Liga MX because of Mexican players would be at worst… delicious.

 

JA:  John, are you telling me that Liga MX is about to turn into a bargain bin of young talent for MLS and some of the Euro leagues?  And can such a move be a blessing in disguise provided many players go abroad and succeed?

 

JJ:  I certainly can envision a future where Mexican players can establish a beachhead in MLS. Colombians, Ecuadorians, and Paraguayans have done the same in Mexico for decades.  Mainly because Liga MX has always been an importer’s league. If you look at the historical superstars of most teams, a good chunk of them were foreign born players. There is nothing wrong with that. But with the new rule in place, I suppose Liga MX is trying to become more of a global brand. It would help immensely if Gignac has the Euro of his life.

But it will still be hard for Mexican players to make the jump to Europe from either MLS or Liga MX.  They are still, even today, unproven in the European market. Yes, there are a few players who are making a name for themselves. Compare a dozen or so Mexicans to hundreds of Brazilians, Argentines, even Uruguayans.

 

JA:  That’s the Tricolor fallacy right there; believing that having a dozen players in Europe is enough to truly compete against the top national teams. It is not.  Not by a longshot.  The one thing all of those countries have in common is a very strong and competitive domestic league where their players can flourish. Looking at the last 3 World Cup champions (Germany, Spain, Italy) they all had squads with a core group of players that play for the same home club. It is something we have talked about in the Dos a Zero podcast.

 

JJ:  Those three national teams benefited from having a strong base from 1 or 2 clubs. With the new regulations in place in Liga MX, it would take a very special group of players to even take the field, much less translate that on a national team level. Maybe Chivas will be the answer one day…

 

JA:  Hopefully someday soon.

 

JJ:  Well, don’t get your hopes up.  Haha!  It has been fun, Joely.  We’ll do this again next week.

 

JA:  Hasta la proxima

 

Be sure to tune in to the dos a zero futbol podcast special Liguilla editions.  Next one will be Sunday at the Conclusion of the Pachuca-Santos match

Follow us on twitter

@jjagou

@joelyaceves

Giovani Dos Santos, LA Galaxy struggle in Draw with Portland

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CARSON, CALIFORNIA. LA Galaxy held on to a 1-1 draw with visiting Portland Timbers, as the injuries pile up worse than traffic on the 405 interstate during a light drizzle. Timbers forward Fernando Adi waited 52 minutes to break the scoresheet. Timbers Nat Borchers contributed an own goal to the Galaxy’s cause in the 84th minute to tie up the game.

Midfielder Rafael Garcia  on his surprise stint as an outside back cameo, replacing injured Robbie Rogers stated, “You gotta step in and get the job done.” Rogers exited the game with a hip contusion.

Read more

Mexico’s Forbidden Chant or Todos Somos Putos

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“For the Mexican, life is the possibility of “chingar” or being “chingado.” Meaning, to humiliate, punish, offend or the other way around.” – Octavio Paz

During the 2014 FIFA World Cup a group of bored social justice warriors, with no real causes to occupy their time with,  decided to target Mexico’s “puto” chant heard during the opposing keepers kick-off. They claimed the chant was hurtful to homosexuals.

FIFA, the governing body of soccer which has awarded their next two World Cups to countries where homosexuality is a crime, took note and began sanctioning the Mexican Football Federation in hopes of eradicating the chant.

For Mexico’s second group match against Croatia a Tricolor fan displayed a banner (pictured above) that trolled FIFA with it’s “whoever reads this is a puto” statement. A clever banner that exemplifies what it means to be Mexican; to chingar.

To sanction the chant is to turn it into a forbidden pleasure that the Tri faithful enjoyed two fold in Mexico’s recent World Cup qualifier against Canada at the Azteca stadium.

Chingar is the main reason why fans chant the word to rustle the opposing keeper or his fans. And we can care less what meaning you give the word as a good time is had.

On that note who is a puto: he is the man selling his tender ass to make ends meet…the girl that will sleep with everyone except you…your pal after he slept with your girlfriend…yourself after running away from a fight…and the opposing goalie who rejects our teams advances.

In essence at one point or another we are all putos. While the meaning does contain the idea of aggression isn’t that what football is all about; defeating your opponents by penetrating their goal.

While the PC Police might have good intentions they are also imposing their ideals on a culture that celebrates by calling each other sons of a whore.

“¡Viva Mexico, hijos de la chingada!”

Mexico Breeze Past Canada

VANCOUVER, BC – It was a bit of a surprise to see Hirving “Chucky” Lozano in the starting line-up for Mexico in front of the largest crowd to ever see the men’s national team play at BC Place.   Mexico coach, Juan Carlos Osorio deliberated up until the last minute.

Chucky or Marco Fabian?

Osorio went with Chucky, who took the field along with Jesus Corona and Javier Hernandez to make up Mexico’s line of attack.  The move paid off as all three were able to find the back of the net in Mexico’s 3-0 victory over Canada.  Lozano, in particular, was especially devastating. If it was not his speed, it was his ball control.  If it wasn’t his darting runs, it was his defense.  And when he dispossessed Canada late in the first half, all Javier Hernandez had to do was send the ball into space like a bucket of chum ready to be gobbled up by a lethal shark. Read more

Potro Gutierrez Confident of Winning Gold in Rio

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As Mexico begins preparing for the Rio 2016 Olympics head coach Raul ‘Potro’ Gutierrez believes that the Tricolor can repeat as medalist. “Mexico is favorite to win Gold along with Brazil and Argentina simply because they are defending champions,” Gutierrez told reporters before boarding a flight to Portugal where the Tricolor will play preparation matches against the host country and Japan.

“We have been preparing for five years so that the level of Mexican football can be taken into account and now I believe that possibility (of winning Gold) is considered,” added a confident Gutierrez. “Ever since we began this process we have talked about defending the gold medal and we continue to have the same idea.

To achieve the feat Gutierrez will  be hoping to count on the experience of PSV midfielder Andres Guardado. “Guardado wants to go to the Olympics, but before that he must win the league championship therefore we must cheer for PSV,” joked the Mexico boss. Still, Gutierrez is aware that in order to count on Mexico’s veteran European based players he will depend on how they end their season.

“It all depends on the clubs. If we are talking about the European based players then we must see in what place they finish in their respective leagues in August and then we can begin to take players into account, we will see how they finish their tourneys before making decisions.” In the meanwhile the U-23’s European tour will serve as excellent preparation.

“These are preparation games where we will continue to evaluate international competition, games against teams of high quality against squads that qualified for the Olympic games, and with the idea of continuing to mature as a team,” finalized Gutierrez.

Copa America draw: Mex and US National team overview

copaAmericaCentThe Copa America draw took place and groups are ready and in place. Mexico is in group C with Uruguay, Venezuela and Jamaica. Chilean coach Noel Sanvicente, stated Mexico can be considered a favorite. Of course he also praised his team as one not to be underestimated. Psychological warfare may be taking place here, when calling Mexico a favorite. Not that they are in a group of death or anything, but this is a South American tournament including the likes of Brazil, Argentina and Chile. One of the El Tri opponents, Jamaica, is a CONCACAF team that is beatable, Venezuela is not usually a top South American team. Uruguay will be the biggest challenge in the group, on paper.

We know that Mexico plays better when they are considered the underdog or are forced to elevate their play to take on giants like Brazil or Argentina. We have also seen Mexico struggle vs CONCACAF teams that they were supposed to handle without major problems. This tournament is an excellent opportunity for Mexico to shine and show their worth versus the powers of CONMEBOL. Also any type of beating given to Uruguay is a good thing.

The US National Team is also in this tournament. It will take place in the US after all. So Mexico and the US will essentially be the home teams. The USMNT are in group A with Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay. We have seen many “Molero” games with the US and Mexico vs Paraguay, so many would see them as a beatable opponent. Costa Rica has been a top team in CONCACAF, and could pose a challenge for the US. Especially at a time where it may be thought that the US is at a low level of play recently. Consider the US already losing the CONCACAF cup as well as the Gold Cup prior, not even making it to the final. Is this the worst US team to be put together for a long time? Also is this Copa America the toughest tournament the US will participate in since the World Cup? Not a good time for the US to come in at a low level of play.

There is always the fighting spirit that the US can rely on. The underdog grit. The “dig deep” attitude that could lift the US up to Copa America glory. On the other hand, I have seen many US adversaries say the US will go “3 and out”, or even chant “I believe that they will lose!”. It should be an exciting tournament.

Ep. 21: Dos a Zero Futbol Podcast – Mexico vs Senegal – Molero

MexVsSenThis episode we talk about the recent Mexico “molero” vs Senegal. We discuss the flops and stand out players from the game. We also have sound clips from Osorio and Pikolin from post the game press conference and mixed zone. Osorio answered a question from the Senegal press on the reason why Mexico gave Senegal a few good scoring opportunities during the game.

We also discuss the Chicharito injury and his career in Europe. As well as some Libertadores talk and LigaMX. A bet was also taken between two of our panelists on the winner of the Santos vs Monterrey game from tonight.

Tune in!

A Mexican Friendly that went from less to more.

Mexico vs SenegalMexico started out with a semi-familiar back line, at least in Molero games. Yasser Corona, Flores, Zavala as well as Captain, Nestor Araujo. The weakness in the Mexican defense seemed to lie initially with Jerry Flores, then Yasser Corona joined in with a couple of nearly fatal mistakes. Yasser was taken out at the half, as was expected. Osorio was well aware of his mistakes and noted them in the press conference after the game.

One of the attractions for this game was the opportunity to see younger up and coming players. Hirving Lozano did start the game and he was definitely dangerous, but didnt have the cohesion and help needed to make an impact in the marker.

Jurgen Damm was as speedy as ever, even coming back to recover defensively. However, the surprise player seemed to be Candido Ramirez, who hasn’t been playing much for his club, but his first touch in the 2nd half was a nice cross to Jesus Dueñas who put it in the back of the net. He looked to be on fire and energetic on the left side.

With Candido now on the left, Lozano moved to the right where he eventually sent a cross over to Rodolfo Pizarro who scored the 2nd goal for Mexico. Pachuca teammates unite!

That would wrap up the match. In a game that started off slow and scary with various defensive lapses, Senegal proved to lack finishing on the few opportunities they had. Jesus Corona came up big on a couple of them. Senegal had some spots where they showed “garra” and even went on the attack for spurts, but Mexico controlled it in the end. Two goals were what the 15,000 fans who were in attendance were waiting for.

Juan Carlos OsorioOsorio was asked in the post game press conference by a Senegal reporter, what he thought of the Mexican defense and how Senegal was able to nearly score on 2 or 3 occasions. JCO was adamant that the reason Senegal was able to get these golden opportunities was because of individual error. He referenced the Yasser Corona error as well as a counter off a Mexican corner kick, where he instructed them to play it short. He defended the strategy of the team. He said, the scoring opportunities were not because they were created by Senegal but due to individual error, and that their system/tactics did not fail them.

JCO also talked about Chucky Lozano and almost said he was just as skilled as Tecatito, but then changed his phrasing to say “not as skilled”. Lozano is good, but needs some more growing to reach Tecatito level, but he is well on that path.

Overall the game started slow, but gained entertainment value as the youngsters got the opportunity to shine and work hard to prove to Osorio that they belong for future National Team call ups.

 

There will be Haters: Mexico vs Senegal

Tomorrow evening the Mexican national team will take on Senegal in Miami, Florida. The players called up for both Mexico and Senegal, are not be 1st string National team players. No Chicharito, No Andres Guardado. We do get to see some young and up and coming players. The two goal scorers vs Honduras Jurgen Damm will be there but Javier Aguino, will not due to injury.

Some good young players will get to show their worth. Chucky Lozano, Carlos Salcedo, Erick Gutierrez and others will get a chance. So while many say that a visit to the Mall will be among one of the highlights of this visit to Miami, some of these players will be fighting to impress. They will be looking to show Osorio that they can “aprovech” their opportunity with El Tri and deserve a future call up in a more critical game.

There will be haters, however. Many call this game a waste of time. They question the Marlin’s Park promotion, as one in particular has pictures of 1st team players such as Chicharito, Guardado and Oribe. It is hard to think that Mexicans will go to the stadium to watch this game not knowing that it is not a FIFA date and these players will not actually be there. Futbol passion is strong, however, so the fan showing may still be solid. However, I am not sure how big a Mexican community exists in the Miami area.

The epic hater award for this particular game, goes to the great Carlos Albert. Formerly from Futbol Picante, he gives his take on the FMF and the use of the national team. He calls it straight up prostituting the National Team, for financial benefits. The FMF being the Pimp daddy counting the dollars after the players attract the fans.

Have a listen to his take, and sorry for the vertical video. 😀

No more non FIFA date friendlies?

pikolinNext week Mexico will play the Senegal National Team in Miami, in what surely can be classified as a “Partido Molero”. Wednesday, February 10th is not a FIFA date and we will not see the top Mexican players in Miami. The Mexicans playing in Europe will not be called up, so we will have to enjoy seeing an abundance of LigaMX players.

We may even get the pleasure of seeing the great Pumas goalkeeper, Pikolin Palacios! In an Interview with Fernando Schwartz and Valeria Marin, Jorge Vergara brought up a good point about these types of games in the US. He mentioned and approved of the idea of not having friendlies in the US that are not on FIFA dates. This would mean all friendlies in the US would showcase the Mexican stars playing in Europe, such as Chicharito, Guardado, etc. The games would be entertaining and the fans would get their moneys worth.

It would also mean that new up and comers may never get a chance to put on the “verde”. Players like Alejandro Palacios and others, who we may be able to see next Wednesday, but possibly never in any real tournament such as Copa Oro or Copa America, much less the World Cup. However, is it right to take away the illusion of representing their country, even if it for just a meaningless friendly?

The fact is Chivas is in danger of relegation and giving up players for a “meaningless” friendly could put the team in further problems, especially if injuries occur. It looks like Vergara and Chivas will only offer up Carlos Salcedo, who is suspended anyways from week 5 LigaMX play.

So while no longer playing non FIFA date friendlies may seem like a good idea to some, such as Chivas, in their state of distress, there may be many LigaMX players who would love to put on the El Tri jersey, even if it is only for a few times. As far as the Mexican fans in the US, there are many who will be more than happy to pay high prices for tickets to attend these games, even without the likes of Chicharito or Tecatito.

The Federation will also be happy with a nice increase in the size of their pocketbooks.

Soccer Chronicle will be onsite in Miami covering the game, so stay tuned to our twitter feed for videos, pictures and news from the game.

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