Mexico qualified to the Round of 16 after a dreadful performance against Chile that ended 0-0. Mexico was the better team but that didn't translate to a good game against the worst team of the group. Mexico had some chances but the defensive Chile sat back and double teamed Mexico's star, Diego Lainez. None of his teammates took that opportunity to help Lainez out and in fact showed that their talent level looks to have been overrated.
Once again, Jairo Torres and Roberto de la Rosa had terrible performances and this time against a clearly inferior team. Mexico will go to the Round of 16 and face Iran. Iran not only defeated Mexico 3-0 in their last friendly prior to the competition but they have won all their games including a 4-0 victory against Germany. It will take a legit miracle for Mexico to get their first win in the tournament and right now Mexico is in a course to their biggest failure in a U-17 World Cup in recent memory.
Unlike their first two games, Mexico started strong and went for the result. A win or tie would qualify Mexico but a loss would have eliminated them. It was kind of a surprise that Chile looked like it was going to sit back (which they did for the whole game) knowing that only a win would have the team remain in the competition. Chile's defensive work concentrated on Diego Lainez, who couldn't have a comfortable game. The opportunity was ripe for Torres and De la Rose to pick up the slack because of it but De La Rosa was isolated as the only forward and Torres once again showed a terrible level of play. Jesus Perez (in for Daniel Lopez) was the other option and kind of showed some interesting stuff but for all the domination, Mexico only had two clear chances. De la Rosa got a ball in the area after a throw in but failed to convert as he had done against Iraq. Lainez had a good opportunity that turned into a cross that De La Rosa wasn't able to control.
The second half had Mexico come in and try to dominate. Iraq was trailing England 3-0 in the other game, which meant that a Mexico win would give them second place of the group. Yet the opportunity was wasted by a Mexico team that looked alike it was unraveling. Chile sat back even more and it was clear that this Mexico team had no answers to open them up. Mexico had long stretches of possession, but did nothing with it and it looked like they weren't going to break through because of Chile's plan of isolating Lainez. Chile started to move forward and had some close opportunities but Mexico had the best chance when the Chilean goalkeeper lost a ball in the midfield and the Mexicans forwards took the ball with De la Rosa hitting the post. The 0-0 eliminated Chile and gave Mexico the final second round spot as the fourth best third place team.
Mexico's U-17 tournament so far has been a complete disappointment. Coach Mario Arteaga had the time, money and players to prepare for this tournament and has so far showed to have done a poor job of making a cohesive team. This team that looked like a candidate to win the competition, or to at least continue their streak of U-17 semifinal appearances, now looks as the worst team to qualify to the second round. Diego Lainez has been the only player to shine in the competition so far and Jairo Torres is well on his way to be considered the biggest bust of the tournament. Mexico will now face Iran, the team that has looked the best so far in the competition. A great performance for Lainez and for his teammates to finally wake up is what is needed for Mexico to even have a chance. Otherwise it looks to be the end of an era for U-17 development in Mexico and the need for a different path to once again become the powerhouse that it was as recent as two years ago.