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Mexico 0, USA 3: An embarrassment

La selección weren’t anywhere near their north border rivals as USA easily cruised to victory.

Mexico v United States: Semifinals - CONCACAF Nations League Photo by Candice Ward/USSF/Getty Images for USSF

No other way to explain yesterday’s match on the part of the Mexican NT. Lacking effort from the start, no creativity when attacking, failure to make effective runs on the sidelines, bad defensive scheme, giving away the first goal on a childish mistake, you name it. It was all wrong from the start. And while Diego Cocca and the players are to blame to an extent, it’s really the front office doings that have doomed this team all the way to what we saw last night.

After 22 minutes of a nothingburger from Mexico, they should’ve been down a score had it not been for Memo Ochoa’s extra effort on a 1-on-1 that forced Pulisic to readjust before taking the shot, causing bad contact and thus, the ball going over the net. But in all reality, no excuse for not scoring there on the striker’s part.

Not a problem though, as an Edson Alvarez incomprehensible pass backward toward his own goal in the penalty box a few minutes later gave Pulisic the ball for an easy cross that beat Ochoa’s outstretched leg. And it was all downhill from there (not that it wasn’t already). And yeah, Alvarez is the player somehow coveted by a few important European clubs for this summer. Wonder why we don’t get that player in the Mexican NT.

The second goal that came 56 seconds into the second half was more of what had been happening the entire game to that point. Weah easily outrunning Gallardo on that left flank, Pulisic easily beating Sánchez, and the three CBs merely non-existent. Slow, late to their coverage, and ineffective to say the very least. No match for any of the USA attackers, who had their way with them all night.

Then the carnage began. Antuna, who had possibly his worst outing in his Mexican NT career, failing to control wide open passes, continued to stink up the joint when he drove shoulder-first into Giovanni Reyna’s face as he headed a ball. Should’ve been a straight red, or at the very least his second yellow. The ref chose neither and let the game continue.

César Montes joined the show with an asinine play of his own after losing the ball in midfield to Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun and proceeded to take a swipe at his legs, as you’d see in an amateur city league game. He was thankfully sent off immediately, and the ref decided to compensate for some reason and also sent off Weston McKennie for shoving Montes in what was a totally justifiable defense for his teammate.

Another CB blunder for Mexico allowed USA’s third of the night, and a couple more reds were shown by the ref, leaving us with a 9 vs 9 matchup to end the game, which had no effect on it at that point.

In all honesty, you can find something wrong in the performance of the entire Mexican NT last night, but there were some noteworthy actors that deserve mentioning:

  • Uriel Antuna: Played potentially the worst game of his NT career. Couldn’t hold on to a ball cleanly, was unable to cause any sort of damage on the right side or whenever he took the ball for that matter, and frankly seemed nervous and overwhelmed by the moment.
  • Full-backs (Jesús Gallardo and Jorge Sánchez): They were simply outrun in every single play by Weah, Pulisic, and Balogun. Just couldn’t get in front of them. Even Dest and Robinson joined in on the fun at times. And when they went forward attempting to create some sort of attack, they never got past the defense. As an extra here, the CBs did no better. They failed to support their FBs when they were in need. Even Arteaga who came in as a sub couldn’t get it done and got shown a red. Definitely a chunk of this has to go to Cocca for ineffective game planning as well.
  • The refs (Iván Barton and crew): These guys should never ref again. Barton allowed the game to get WAY out of hand when he didn’t send off Antuna for that shoulder tackle on Reyna. It almost seemed they didn’t want to leave a team at a disadvantage, so his solution was to not do anything. And if he did send a Mexican player off, he sent a USA player off with him as well to keep things “balanced.” Terrible decisions on the pitch ignoring clear FIFA rules that could’ve led to very serious injuries for either side. That being said, they had no influence in the outcome of the game. All I’m saying is they should’ve had A LOT more control over the game and could’ve easily prevented the violence we ultimately saw on the pitch.

Those are just three main focal points. I think we could sit here for another couple hours calling out everything that went wrong yesterday.

The conclusion from this match is that Mexico are a team in shambles at the moment. But these shambles have been brought upon because of front office decisions that have stunted young players’ growth, have placed wrong decision-makers within the organization, and have ultimately led to placing a wrong head coach in Cocca. This isn’t the players’ or coaches’ doing.

Now, in all fairness to Cocca, I don’t agree with the chants calling for his head. Neither he nor anyone could make this group of players with limited talent work on the pitch, much less defeat superior squads in USA or even Canada now. The days of Mexico ruling CONCACAF are officially over as this free fall clearly hasn’t hit rock-bottom yet. The sooner FMF admits this and starts making the adequate adjustments, the sooner we’ll get back to competing on a higher level again. Until then, it’s going to be a LOOONG summer for Mexico with the Gold Cup right around the corner. Brace yourselves.