Mexico vs. Panama, 2013 Gold Cup: Final score 1-2, thanks for playing Chepo

Ronald Martinez

El Tri should have the deepest player pool in CONCACAF and should make Gold Cup finals almost automatically. They've been bounced out by Panama because they are inferior to Panama. That's obviously a problem.

It's difficult to find things that haven't already been said about 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre, his tactics, his odd team selections and his even more odd substitution patterns. It's also hard to find something new to say about the disjointed nature of his Mexico squad for the Gold Cup and all of the intriguing and promising fringe players that were left home. Just about everyone who has interest in reading this blog is well aware of all of those things and has been for months.

Panama defeated Mexico 2-1 in the Gold Cup semifinal on Wednesday, matching the scoreline that they defeated Mexico by in the group stage. In both games they scored first, conceded an equalizer created by Marco Fabian's individual skill, then scored a winner in the second half. In both games, they were the better team than Mexico. They left Felipe Baloy, Amílcar Henríquez, Luis Tejada and Luis Henriquez, four of their five or six best players, at home for this tournament, and yet they are still demonstrably better than this Mexico team.

Blas Perez scored the opener 13 minutes in, assisted by Alberto Quintero who took advantage of a giveaway by Jonathan Orozco before setting up his star striker. Mexico hit back in the 26th minute through Luis Montes, who headed in a brilliant cross by Marco Fabian. In the middle of a fairly dead second half, Roman Torres nodded in the eventual winner for Panama, losing Joel Huiqui and heading in on a corner. Mexico pushed forward frantically in search of an equalizer, but never found one.

Fabian was Mexico's best player again. Raul Jimenez showed flashes of brilliance, but was inconsistent and poor in front of goal. The entire midfield did nothing, save for the goal Montes scored, and things didn't get better once 'Chaton' Jorge Enriquez was subbed in. Huiqui and Juan Valenzuela were a poor defensive partnership again, with Huiqui in particular playing an awful game.

Much like the Mexico A-team, this team has lacked creativity, decisiveness in front of goal and the ability to control midfield like Mexico should against CONCACAF opposition. If there is some sort of coherent tactical plan at work, it's not obvious. The same goes for Chepo's subs.

We've now seen Mexico's A-team fail to win games in CONCACAF, then fail to match up well with elite competition at Confederations Cup. The Mexico B-team has failed to match up with other CONCACAF B-teams that are the same caliber as the ones they dispatched of easily in 2009. The A-team and the B-team seem to have the exact same problems, with the notable exception of the A-team's very competent central defense play.

In all of these situations, the players for Mexico have been different, as has the level of competition. The only constants are Chepo, the terrible style of play and the results. This team has been a disaster since March because of Chepo and everyone knew it before Gold Cup except for the FMF.

Maybe things will be different when we wake up.

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