The same mistakes done all U-17 World Cup guided Mexico to an early elimination as they lost to Iran 2-1 in the Round of 16. One of the most talented offensive teams coming in gave the worst U-17 world Cup performance in years and finished the streak of Semifinals. Coach Mario Arteaga did a historically bad job as his team didn't play a single great game, and although they gave their best performance in the U-17 World Cup today against Iran, the same mistakes done all tournament sank Mexico.
Mexico came in as a huge underdog after a terrible group stage performance. With only two draws, including one against a Chile team that lost badly their other two games. Mexico came in as the fourth best third-place team. They would face an uphill battle against an Iran team that had been the best team of the tournament.
Mexico started well and had a good chance in a free-kick that was ruled offside. Then out of nowhere, Arturo Vasquez gave away a penalty that Mohammad Sharifi converted. A couple of minutes later another bad mistake from the Mexican defense (especially captain Carlos Robles who had a terrible tournament) let Allahyar Sayad loop it over the goalkeeper for the early 2-0.
Once again a bad start had Mexico behind. The defensive problems that Mexico had all tournament were still present and the situation hadn't gotten better. Mexico improved somewhat but once again it was Diego Lainez doing most of the work. Finally, a good play by Lainez ended in a shot that was deflected by the keeper into the path of Roberto de la Rosa, who controlled the ball and scored the 2-1.
Mexico played better after the goal and could have had the second had Daniel Lopez controlled a ball that looked to send him through.
The second half continued with a game similar to their first game against Iraq. Like in that game, Mexico had control of the ball and was "dominating" the play, but Iran was constantly dangerous in the counter attacks because the weak Mexican defense was caught going up field. Jairo Torres, who overall had another bad game, was having some of his better moments and Lainez was also being dangerous. A Torres free kick hit the post and the rebound was hastily cleared by the Iranian defense. Then a cross was deflected by the Iranian keeper into Lainez's patch and he shot just wide.
While Mexico was having it's best moment, the second biggest problem happened when coach Arteaga started making his moves. Arteaga subbed in Cesar Huerta and Deivon Magaña and the team's attack started to be dependent on crosses. Mexico's team strength was never the air attack and the crosses were perfect for Iran to get the ball and start countering.
After the Lainez opportunity, Iran had the better chance to score a third than Mexico to tie it. Also just like the England game, Mexico's reaction was sabotaged by their nervousness and their attack turned into desperation long balls. Those long balls finished Mexico's dangerous attacks and Iran held on for the win.
Mexico's U-17 world Cup was a total failure. A team that had high expectations failed miserably. While Iran was the favorite and the loss in not surprising, what is surprising is that Mexico was placed in that situation. Especially when they only needed a win to get second place and had a disastrous 0-0 tie against Chile, one of the weakest team in the tournament. Coach Mario Arteaga did a terrible job of preparing the team for this competition. The U-17 Mexican team is one of the teams that come most prepared as it has been playing tournaments for a while. This team had won the Niigata Tournament in 2016, two Torneo de Naciones in Mexico (2016,2017), and the CONCACAF U-17 Championship. It was given the tools and competitions to do better but from the start of the Spanish camp, it looked like it was going nowhere. That Spain camp of four friendlies had Mexico finishing with three losses and one draw. Combined with the four games in the U-17 World Cup meant that this U-17 team didn't get a single win in eight straight games. To make matter worse, it was deserved. Mexico was clearly a team with weak defense but good offensive prowess but the team looked even more lopsided in this tournament and the offensive powered faltered in the tournament, with Roberto de la Rosa not having as good a tournament as expected and Jairo Torres being a complete bust. Diego Lainez, the star player and one of the brightest spots coming in to a U-17 World Cup in years, was the lone bright spot and in the end, teams were double teaming him as they realized he was the main offensive weapon. Even if he tried to carry the team and at times did, he shouldn't have been placed in that position. The loss not only wasted Lainez's talent but the whole team and now Mexico's U-17 powerhouse status is rocked. The FMF should take a long hard look at their first big failure in the category in years