Juan Carlos Osorio’s European Adventure

He has gone a long way from being a Manchester City cone-setter to coaching Mexico’s national team.Newly minted coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, fresh off a weekend of seeing a handful of Liga MX games, has jetted of to the Old Country to have a chat with the players who will likely form the Tri’s base as they take the field in a game that really matters next month.  Mexico will open Russia 2018 qualification with a home game vs El Salvador before traveling to San Pedro Sula a few days later.

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Mexico’s U17 splits a point with Socceroos

Mexico can't capitalize on chances

Disappointing draw for Mexico against Joeys

Mexico’s encore performance much more sobering for squad, coach, and fans. With the draw Mexico has virtually guaranteed control of their own destiny, a possible rematch of the 2013 U17 looms large.

The Mexican coach Arteaga remarked “Australia knew our style of play and how to stop us.” Hoping to outflank them, he made 3 critical changes which appeared to deliver in the opening minutes. The first was swapping winger Magaña with central midfielder Lopez. The second was swapping the backline of 3, which hand seen off the Argentine strikers, to a backline of 4 where the Mexican backs seemed less comfortable. The third, and which allowed the squad down under to approximate Mexico’s possession of the ball advantage, final tally of 48% to Mexico’s 52%,  in allowing the Mexican squad to be stretched vertically.

Mario Arteaga might be questioning his adjustments to this game as having the Mexican defense sitting in their own half of the field while punting 50/50 balls to striker Aguirre against 3 defenders led to Australia enjoying more possession with plenty of time and space to pick out a pass. The success against Argentina was in part due to the advancing of lines allowing quick combinations and rotating of positions, Total Futbol with a jalapeño flavor.

With 20 goal attempts, and 0 goals to show for it, there is no question the Mexican strikers will be wondering if they’d be able to hit the side of el burro on this day. Their best chance coming in the first half as the striker Aguirre hit the goalpost. Arteaga commented, “we were unlucky in the first half, when we had good chances.”

Unlucky in the first half and superb keeping in the second half. The Australians might be wondering if the Mexicans had Superman or Abraham Coronero, LA Galaxy Academy Prospect, under the sticks. As he snuffed out their best chance of the night off a direct free kick. Earning himself a fan in Australian coach Vidmar, “the Mexican goalkeeper had a remarkable match.”

The Australian squad may still qualify and relished the opportunity to face an Argentine squad that is down and probably out, “We kept our options of qualifying open and now it’s in our hands.” Australia will be looking to keep the number of cards they draw to a minimum as FIFA has introduced a Fair Play Points system, which serves as a tiebreaker, for advancing into the knockout stages.

Noting that the light is not out, door has not closed, jello has not jiggled and the butter isn’t hard, Arteaga offered these final thoughts “in the end, it’s a fair result, and it’s not bad because we have one more point.” Not bad. Not good either, if they continue playing poorly.

Chicharito Reaches 101 Career Goals

chicharito_festejo_bayer

It’s turning out to be a good year for Mexican striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez who recently bagged a brace in Leverkusen’s 4-4 draw against Roma in the UEFA Champions League to reach 101 career goals.

Hernandez, who began his career at Chivas Guadalajara, scored 29 goals with the ‘Goats.’ The Little Pea then crossed the pond to play at Manchester United where he managed to score on 59 occasions. Last season whilst on loan with Real Madrid ‘Chicha’ managed to score 9 times despite limited playing time.

Since joining Leverkusen, this summer, Hernandez has already registered 4 goals with the German club: 1 in Bundesliga and 3 more in Champions League action. Hernandez, who has bagged 42 goals with Mexico, is  four goals away from becoming the national team’s all-time goal scorer.

A Mexican-American’s perspective on being a Mexico fan

If you are familiar with this blog and myself personally, you already know I went to the US vs Mexico game in Pasadena, rooting for El Tri. I posted a video documenting the experience here. I have also been to US vs Mexico games in Houston and San Antonio. The San Antonio game, I was able to hangout with Pancho Villas Army, a US based supporters group of Mexico fans.

So why do I, A US Citizen, root for Mexico? First some background. I was born in the US, my parents(both born in Mexico) taught us little Spanish and I grew up in Northern Florida, far from any “raza” to learn the culture or language from. I then spent 2 years in Mexico on a Mormon Mission. I struggled but fairly quickly learned the language. I loved the people, who I identified with, because of my heritage. I loved the food and made good friends. I dived straight into everything about Mexico. I would rarely speak English with even companions who were American.

Now before these 2 years in Mexico, I had played soccer all my life. I lived in an area that was all about American Football, specifically College Football: Alabama, Auburn, FSU, Florida, and the Miami Hurricanes. Our High School soccer coach was actually the football coach and knew little about the beautiful game. I quickly learned that we were playing “kick and run” soccer. Technical skills were lacking and for many players on our team, it was their first time playing soccer. It was a contrast to my time in Mexico where we played soccer in the streets with kids or where Church buildings, instead of basketball courts had mini cement soccer courts. The love for the game was instantly evident in Mexico and a huge difference from how it was in the States.

In the US I grew up with Frank Rikard and Van Basten posters on my wall. Roberto Baggio was one of my favorite players. Then I watched the Mexican National Team in the 94 World Cup and my love for team grew. Campos was exciting, but all this was just a flicker in my motivation for Mexican fandome. My focus during the 94 World Cup was still on the bigger teams. Fast forward to 2002, I was then married to a Veracruzana, and working for the US Air Force. I love my country, that is the US, and served it proudly. I was working in Hawaii and saw announcements at bars for the World Cup games. I began watching games and then saw a big promo for the US vs Mexico game. I was following the Mexico games, partly because there were no big following for the US games or Soccer in general. I arrived at a restaurant to watch the game along with Mexico fans. Mexicans in Hawaii, wow, thats impressive. Of course the result was a sad one, but that is where my in-depth love for the Mexican National Team and fanatazism with soccer began. I began to follow the Mexican club league, MLS, and European leagues. I took a liking to Pumas, as some of my cousins went to school at UNAM. I enjoyed Tigres as some family is also from Monterrey. Veracruz got left out in the cold, because they are just too bad. LOL.

So to get to the point, my love for the Mexican National team is not one of patriotic loyalty, or politics, but it is about the culture of Mexico, the love of the game. Its because kids grow up playing soccer in the streets or dirt fields, and not any other sport. It’s the passion of the Mexican fans. A big part as well, is the technical style of play, which is a big contrast to the “kick and run” style of soccer that I grew up playing in the US.

In Pasadena I heard a Mexican-American fan in a US jersey say, “I don’t wear a Mexico jersey, because Mexico hasn’t given me anything”. To me that has nothing to do with my reasons for supporting Mexican soccer. For me there is a seperation between sport and politics. I do not love something because it benefits me monetarily or because I think it should owe me anything. I support Mexico in soccer because it is part of my heritage, because the fans are passionate and united in its love for Futbol, and finally because I enjoy the way the game is played as opposed to the US game. The US is the country of my birth, Mexico is the country of my heritage. I would not be a fan of any other country’s team, but between the US and Mexico, my path has taken me to be a El Tri fan for life.

Mexican U17 dominates Argentina in debut.

Mexico superior in debut match

Mexico superior in debut v Argentina

In a performance reminiscent of early 1990’s Mexican National Team, playing in Estadio Nelson Oyarzún Arenas, located about 400 KM from the Chilean Capital Santiago, the Mexican U17 squad, led by Mario Arteaga, kicked off their debut by seeing off the Miguel Lemme Argentine squad.

Goals by Mexican Winger Magaña, of C.D. Guadalajara, and a converted penalty by Mexican zaguero Venegas, of C.F. Pachuca, of in the 10th and 77th minutes.

Lemme’s men were content to cede possession and sit in their half of the pitch, absorbing pressure and looking to striker on the counter. Mexico’s first warning that this would not be an easy match with a well-place shot outside the 18 forcing the Argentine keeper Peano into a spectacular save in the 2nd minute. Argentina’s best chance in the first half came off a well placed through ball off the boot of Captain Conechny, which was flubbed by right winger Berterame 4 minutes later.

In the second half, the Argentine squad changed their tactics, pushing up their lines to press the Mexican salida, looking to win the ball in the Mexican half of the pitch and quickly transition taking advantage of the proximity of the rival goal and possible disorganization. The little albiceleste did improve their possession of the ball, but failed to create clear goal chances. No doubt this is partially due to the Argentine strikers preferring to aim for Sergio Ramos’ still orbiting Champions League penalty miss, rather than the Mexican keeper’s net.

The natural right footed winger Magaña would open the scoreline by dribbling from the left wing past 4 Argentine players and taking a well-placed shot into  the first post of the  Argentine keeper.

Although the final stats sheet will show Argentina with 18 shot attempts, 6 on-target, 9 off-target and 4 blocked, the Argentine squad did not threaten the Mexican keeper much. In part thanks to the hard work of the Mexican backline and mids, who snuffed out the overwhelming majority of counter attacks before they posed a bigger threat, but also due to their inability to approvech any possession they managed in the final 3rd of the pitch.

Mexico enjoyed 59% possession of the ball, created only 13 shot attempts with 6 of them on-target. The Mexican team also won the majority of 1v1 on both sides of the ball while also winning the majority of 50/50 balls and secondary balls.

Looking to motivate his squad for the forthcoming fixture, the Argentine coach Lemme remarked post game  “it was a balanced game and the pace of the game was spectacular.”

Mexico’s coach Mario Arteaga remarked about his team “the team was good tactically speaking and with the quick passes and combinations we could create spaces between lines and the goals came. This win gives us confidence to go ahead”

CONCACAF Cup 2015 Experience

So I flew out to Cali to check out this “important” game between the US National Team vs the Mexican National Team of soccer. I knew of all the molero friendlies, such as the previous one in San Antonio, that this was the one to be at. 93,000 peeps flooded the stadium and from my perspective 85% of them were Mexico fans. Pancho Villa’s Army impressed with a large showing on their side of the field, and the huge banner that they unfurled during the Mexican national anthem.

I got to meet up with my man, Joely. Enjoyed some of LA sights and pregame tailgate festivities. The game was the icing on the cake, even with come back US goals, the ending was glorious.

Check out my experience below:

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