Mexico lost on penalties against Chile on Sunday to finish dead last in the 2018 UC Copa Sub-17. Buried under the massive amount of news on the weekend, Mexico failed to win a single game and lost the final match against the hosts on penalties. While this team was kind of short in terms of the squad, they still had players like Efrain Alvarez on the team. Coach Marco Antonio Ruiz must turn things around fast to see if the team will not follow in the steps of the U-20 team that got their ticket in the CONCACAF qualifiers and qualified to the final but failed to impress against the better teams.
Mexico opened the Group Stage on Wednesday by losing 1-0 to Paraguay. The loss wasn’t by much but it was a bad start for the team, as they tried to be one of the two teams to go to the semifinals. They then tied 1-1 with Ecuador on Thursday, a point that gave the team life as Ecuador had defeated Chile, who was going into the game against Mexico already eliminated from the tournament. Paraguay then did Mexico a favor by defeating Ecuador, which meant all the young El Tri side needed was a win versus Chile to reach the next round. Mexico, however, wasted the gift by only drawing 0-0 against the hosts, thus Ecuador and Paraguay went through while Mexico and Chile went off to the loser’s bracket.
In the loser’s bracket Semifinal match, Mexico got their second loss of the tournament by losing to Venezuela by a score of 2-1. This meant Mexico went to the 7th place match in a rematch versus Chile. Once again Mexico and Chile tied, this time with a score of 2-2. On penalties, Chile defeated Mexico 4-2, giving Mexico the last-place finish.
The tournament ends on a sour note for Mexico. As the team prepares for the U-17 World Cup qualifiers, this failure doesn’t bode well, especially after the struggles the U-20 team had in their own World Cup qualifiers. Coach Marco Antonio Ruiz will have to put things together fast now, although there are rumors that with the imminent arrival of Gerardo Martino, there will be a shakeup across youth national teams. For now, the U-17 CONCACAF Championship won’t be until later in the year and there is still no date or site for the tournament. Still, this is anything but good in an age category where Mexico has had their most success.