Mexico completed their worst performance in a U-20 World Cup by finishing without a single point as they lost to Ecuador 1-0. With a terrible job done by coach Diego Ramirez, Mexico got dominated by an Ecuador team that didn’t play their best game but it was still enough to beat Mexico. Mexico looked out of depth all tournament, something that was clear since the CONCACAF U-20 Tournament, where they struggled against every team that was better than lower level.
Mexico started well but like every game, soon Ecuador took control of the possession. While the game looked even it didn’t take long for Ecuador to have a good opportunity against Mexico’s struggling defense. An Ecuador attacker went past defender Kevin Alvarez and left a ball in the middle for a wide open Jordy Plata, who placed it past the goalkeeper for the 1-0. Neither Efrain Orona nor Arturo Cardenas arrived early to close down Plata, the only other attacker in the area.
Mexico went on the attack and off a free kick, Diego Lainez made a great cross that Mario Trejo headed in but was ruled offside.
Mexico started to gain more control of the ball as Ecuador opted to play behind the ball. At the same time, Ecuador kept with a heavy physical approach, causing many fouls and stoppages.
Lainez had a free kick and his cross went to the area but Gilberto Sepulveda failed to get to the ball after being wide open.
Off another free kick, Ecuador goalkeeper Moises Ramirez failed to catch a ball, allowing Mexico a wide open chance that was deflected for a corner kick.
The second half started with Roberto de la Rosa getting subbed on for Francisco Figueroa, who played his worst game in the tournament.
Minutes in and Ecuador had a chance just from outside the area after Mexico failed to clear a corner kick. The show went wide and Mexico was safe. Ecuador had another chance just outside the area but Diego Palacios shot went wide. Two long range shots from Ecuador weren’t close to being goals but showed that Ecuador had taken control of the game once again.
Lainez had a long range shot handled by the keeper. Ecuador then proceeded to have a great chance but Leonardo Campana’s shot was deflected by the Mexican defense. Palacios had another chance after a comically bad defensive job by Mexico left him wide open but his shot missed wide.
Mexico’s keeper Carlos Higuera had to scramble and make two great saves from short range after the Mexican defense once again showed to be out of their element.
Mexico had a great chance after a corner kick was deflected but Efrain Orona tried to head it in and only got in the way of the better placed Mexican attacker. A good cross by Lainez then found De la Rosa, who head it back to Jose Juan Macias, but his header went straight to the keeper.
The last of the minutes had a disorganized Ecuador had more control of the ball as Mexico started to get desperate and continued with their awful level of play. In the final minutes, Ecuador looked to hold on to the ball and get the three points they needed to get to the next round. Mexico started flailing and getting desperate and in the end the elimination was more than justified.
Mexico’s total failure in the U-20 World Cup should open a lot of eyes to what’s wrong with Mexico’s youth team. While a lot had been made about how the problems of the team was that players like Macias and Lainez got with the team late, the fact is that the players who were with Ramirez for more than a month were the worst players and the ones who looked less clear in their ideas. The defense of Gilberto Sepulveda, Oswaldo Leon, Kevin Alvarez and Naelson Cardenas, along with central midfielder Efrain Orona was the weakest area from Mexico and it was something that you could see from U-20 CONCACAF Tournament. Instead of improving on it, Monterrey didn’t give Jonathan Gonzalez permission to go to the tournament and Carlos Vargas wasn’t called up for similar reasons. This tournament should prove that no amount of training together will beat better talent and that the strategy of having more training time to get past more talented teams that has been in place since the 1998 World Cup is outdated. For now, this was a huge step backward for Mexico in Poland, and if things don’t change, it will go back to the form of terrible youth results that was the norm pre-2005.