Mexico lost to Japan by a score of 3-0 on Sunday and has one foot out of the door of the U-20 World Cup. Coach Diego Ramirez got outcoached once again and Mexico gave one of the worst performances in a world stage in years. Mexico will now go to the final group stage game with 0 points and a -4 goal difference. While it’s true that the four best third-placed teams go through, it would be a miracle for Mexico to get one of those spots with such a big hill to climb.
Mexico had a good start to the game. A minute in, Diego Lainez made a great pass to Roberto de la Rose, whose shot was saved by the Japanese goalkeeper. Jose Juan Macias then latched on to a cross and made a great play in the area but took too long before having his shot blocked.
Japan eventually gave their first warning when they sent a free header straight to the goalkeeper, showing in the process how weak Mexico’s aerial defense was. Japan then proceed to control the ball, and even came close to scoring off a badly defended corner kick.
After Roberto Meraz fell down with what looked like a bad injury, a terrible mistake by the Mexican defense (while Meraz was getting treatment) led to Japan’s Tasei Miyashiro finding the ball of a rebound in the area and scoring with a left-footed shot.
The injury caused Tony Figueroa to be subbed on, which added an offensive presence, but as expected, Mexico’s defense faltered and looked especially weak in the air.
Mexico slowly won back control of the ball, but just like against Italy, Mexico had no offensive ideas to create danger. Mexico finished the half with a terrible level of play and offering no answers to counter Japan.
Mexico started the second half with Misael Dominguez getting subbed on for Roberto de la Rosa. Mexico didn’t look much better and once again Japan took control of the ball. Mexico made another defensive mistake in a corner kick and gave Kyosuke Tagawa a free header for the 2-0.
Mexico had to go to the attack and off a corner kick, the ball fell to Macias, who failed to control the ball in what would have given him a free chance at the goal.
Japan looked like the more complete team throughout, as Mexico seemed without cohesion. Japan once again went through the area and Taisei Miyashiro got his second goal and placed the 3-0 that had Mexico on the ropes.
A combination play in the area ended with a long range shot from Lainez that went close to the left post. Daniel Lopez then looked to have scored but it was rightly ruled offside.
In the final minutes, a Japanese attacker went past Naelson Cardenas (who had a terrible game) and should have gotten a good opportunity, but sent his shot wide.
Macias in the last minute had a shot pass near the area but it went wide. Mercifully the ref blew the final whistle and finished Mexico’s embarrassment.
This loss not only has Mexico almost out of the tournament, but it also puts to light a lot of problems that should’ve been evident from a while ago. Coach Diego Ramirez has shown not to be able to meet expectations. The fact that the team failed to change after halftime and actually got worse lets a lot to be desired of his capacity to change things. The tournament should also question the idea that having players train together for months is able to replace talent. Players like Jose Juan Macias, Diego Lainez and Misael Dominguez, who were the ones who trained the least because of club commitments and who arrived later than most, are the players who “excelled” the most. Meanwhile, players like Efrain Orona, Gilberto Sepulveda, Oswaldo Leon and Naelson Cardenas, who had spent the most time training together, looked out of place in this level.