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Sanchez Sacked: The Post-Mortem

After savaging his predecessor Ricardo LaVolpe in the Mexican press, Hugo Sanchez has suffered the same fate as LaVolpe and unlike his more capable predecessor he did not make through a world cup cycle. Mexico’s fortunes seem to have dipped recently despite having an immense amount of young talent: young talent I personally feel is comparable to any nation on the planet save perhaps Argentina. Mexico’s inability to defeat the United States is stunning when you consider not a single American with the exception of Landon Donovan is more talented than the Mexican playing the very same position for El Tri. (But as I have said with England, where I believe Donovan would be the only American to actually make a 23 man squad for the Three Lions, he is more talented than any current Mexican player just as Donovan is more talented than any current English player) But the United States is if anything well organized as a national side with a clear philosophy, something Mexico recently has lacked.

Hugo Sanchez was a legend of world football: the only Mexican player to ever reach such heights. He is also one of only three players to have played in the two most recent US first divisions the NASL and MLS. (Can you guess the other two?) However, his tenure as Mexican coach was highlighted by, a friendly loss to the US in Phoenix, a loss to Honduras at the 2007 Gold Cup, losing to the United States yet again in the Gold Cup final when Benny Feilhaber struck a volley from outside the box, and a disastrous Olympic Qualifying campaign. It was that failure that ultimately took Sanchez’s job status from “questionable” to “day to day.”

Mexico’s Golden Generation of players is upon us. Gio Dos Santos, Andres Guardado, Guillermo Ochoa, Julio Dominguez, Carlos Vela and Nery Castillio. As I stated above I would take this set of young players over just about any set of a comparable age on the planet. But despite the depth of talent, Mexico seems to have lost its edge over CONCACAF opponents. El Tri is routinely being beaten by a less talented American side, often times in ugly fashion, and with the recent emergence of Honduras as a legitimate power in the region, Mexico has more than just the United States and Costa Rica to fend off for regional supremacy. Honduras showed its quality by beating Mexico in the 2007 Gold Cup and then defeating the United States to win the 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament (after losing to the US in group play). Mexico for the first time in recent memory doesn’t sport the regions most feared veteran players: those would be David Suazo of Honduras and Landon Donovan of the United States. Thanks largely to Sanchez’s vocal opposition to LaVolpe, any attempt to overhaul Mexico’s style and integrate some of the tactics and techniques that have made Argentina so successful were thrown on the back burner. In addition, Sanchez encouraged Mexican Footballers to leave the domestic league even though unlike MLS, the Mexican League provides both the financial security and quality player development any national team would want for its players. Sanchez’s legacy as Mexico’s greatest footballer will not be tarnished but no doubt exists that his managerial career will not be fondly remembered by most associated with the national team.

Mexican Football has reached a crossroads. With a talent pool which is the envy of footballing world, the federation must make a decision whether or not to pursue a foreign manager and simply ignore the critics like Sanchez. I always found Sanchez’s nationalism to be contradictory: he didn’t want a foreign manager or any foreign born players associated with the national team program but at the same time found Mexico’s own domestic league which is arguably the best in this hemisphere inadequate for his players. So essentially Hugo Sanchez wasn’t a Mexican nationalist: he was simply a critic, a contrarian and that as the United States found with Bruce Arena late in his tenure is not a good leadership trait.

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, Mexican National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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13 Responses to Sanchez Sacked: The Post-Mortem

  1. Dwayne says:

    Kartik,
    Please stop this huge bias of yours towards American players and in particular, Landon Donovan.Are u telling me that Landon donovan is a better midfielder than the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole, Owen Hargreaves, Gareth Barry, Aaron Lennon from england? Hell, he isnt even the best midfielder on the galaxy. That has to be goldenballs! For a change, be objective and stop singing the praises of a player who choked at the biggest stage and who really shouldnt even be starting on his national team.
    And about Mexico? Do you seriously believe Landon donovan is a better player than Rafa marquez( who in case u didnt know, plays for Barcelona, while Landon couldnt get into a mid table spanish side),Omar Bravo, Carlos Salcido and Pavel Pardo.. At the risk of sounding rude, I want to say that you are delusional in singing the praises of Landon Donovan. Donovan honestly shoudnt even make the national team’s starting XI. Where do you play him in a midfield of Bradley, Clark, Adu and Beasley(if he is fit).. u also cant play him upfront as Dempsey, Twellman, Wolff, Johnson and Altidore are better options..

    I’m sorry if I was rude, but please be objective for a change..

  2. Kartik says:

    Dwayne,

    Fair points but let me discuss why I disagree.

    I actually said he was more talented than those players not necessarily better. But let’s look at each one of the players from England in particular you mentioned and compare them as internationals (not club players) to Donovan.

    Lampard- peaked as an international in 2004 now has issues with spacing and holding the ball with England.

    Gerrard- Ditto above, but maybe Capello moving him to a withdrawn striker position solves this.

    Cole- a skilled wide player but too hot and cold for me. Doesn’t have the ability to hold the ball in tight spaces that Donovan has

    Aaron Lennon- You must be joking, right? This is like the people who claim Jonathan Bornstein, Maurice Edu and Rico Clark are already the top US players

    Gareth Barry- He’s left footed which is the only reason he ever gets an England call up

    Owen Hargreaves- A totally different type of player than Donovan. He’s decent though.

    You may have me on the Rafa Marquez point. However for the 100th time I base my assesment on how these guys perform as internationals not as club players. The international game is completely different from say the Premier League. That’s why England has such a hard time adjusting to playing in a different style and for example I have stated despite his ability to somehow find himself on the pitch in a Premier League match, Eddie Johnson should NEVER be called in for the national team again.

    I also believe I am being objective when I state that no other American player could make a 23 man England team. In fact I believe the names you mention like Clark and Bradley would never get an England cap, ever, even in a “B” match. They simply aren’t skilled enough. Donovan is much more talented than any American player of this generation.

    Every single Mexican player you have mentioned could start for the United States easily. Pardo, Salcido, Bravo are all better by a country mile than the Americans who play the same position. That’s why the real delusion is our fans who somehow claim we are better than Mexico and that our league (MLS) is better than the Mexican League. In fact, Mexico as I mention in the post should be dominating CONCACAF right now and ought to be strong enough to get beyond the 2nd round of the World Cup. My point is Donovan is the only American skilled enough, and accomplished enough to even be considered for these types of national teams like Mexico and England. Those two sides are underachievers yet our players STILL AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH TO PLAY FOR SECOND RATE NATIONAL SIDES. Honestly, Clark and Bradley would never get a look from England. The mere mention of players of their skill level playing for the three lions would be laughed at. I like them both for what they are, which is very good players by the American standard, but c’mon they are nowhere near Donovan in skill level or tactical savvy.

    You couldn’t honestly tell me when the US has so few truly skilled players, that you wouldn’t put Donovan in a starting XI? I’ll be perfectly honest with you. Take Donovan away from the US in qualifying and the US finishes maybe 4th in CONCACAF. Seriously, I don’t think we are at the point yet because as you correctly point out Mexico has some fantastic players as does Honduras, Costa Rica, T&T, etc to take our most accomplished international and most skilled player away and be successful.

    If Donovan were to disappear from CONCACAF Qualifying, I think Mexico, Honduras and a Caribbean nation (maybe T&T or perhaps Haiti who is improving) all make it before us. Costa Rica has an aging side that may not far well in qualifying, but we don’t have proven players who have done well in qualifiers other than Donovan and Beasley. Given Beasley’s injury bug, taking Donovan out of the starting XI would be disastrous.

  3. bandeeto says:

    Kartik, are you saying that Donovan is the US national teams leader? I agree about his talent, but the one attribute of Donovans that has been consistently considered as lacking is his leadership on the field, especially in high pressure games. I agree with you talent wise, but I would like clarification from you. Do you think Donovan is a good National team leader? As always, interesting reading. Keep it up man.

  4. Kartik says:

    He’s not the leader per se, most American players lack any sort of real leadership skills and those that do sometimes are as destructive and arrogant as effective (see John Harkes) but Donovan is our best player hands down. I know Dave thinks Adu is better but I respectfully disagree. We both agree that Adu and Donovan are miles ahead of any other player the US has, we just disagree as to who the better player of the two is.

  5. Crew 1996 says:

    Kartik,

    Please stop your bias AGAINST American players. You make this assumption that if a guy is Latin he is more skilled than an American. This is plainly false and insulting. Most of what you speak about is on the mark and based on real knowledge but above you’ve said Bradley and Clark would never even get an England B call up. That is simply ridiculous. Bradley at 20 is already better than Hargreves or Carrick who are much older as a holding midfielder who can push into the attack.

    Also, why the sudden love for England? Perhaps it’s the Anglo snobbery of your brethren in the soccer media from which you were refreshingly immune for some time but now have seemed to fall into the same trap calling all these English players skilled and talented. So they do well in their domestic league, big deal. What has any of them accomplished under tough circumstances in someone else’s league or in international competitions? We, the US have accomplished far more.

    As far as Sanchez. Good riddance.

  6. Berlin says:

    I’d agree with Dave, Adu is our best player but for the fact that he doesn’t play. Landon has been our best but famously vanishes when we need him most. The English national side could fill its roster with US Goalkeepers and still we would have better talent at that position, ditto for Mexico. We’ll see how the talent stacks up at Wembley soon.

  7. Brits Should Not Run American Football says:

    Kartik you are a contradictory soul. When you correctly point out TFC is an insult to the game in this country you are right on the money, but when you claim England has all these players better than ours you are just trying to make yourself socially acceptable in soccer media.

    IT’S CALLED BACKSLIDING

    Early in your tenure as the host of American Soccer Show you joined Denholm in calling a spade a spade and generally rejecting the euro snobbery and obsession with Brtish Football we have to endure 24/7 in our soccer media save some brave souls like Paul Gardner.

    But now I am sure after you’ve been taken to task by those around you, a decision has been made to build up the English team and dress down the US. This mentality is precisely why many of us who love the game in this nation, watch MLS and support the Nats with all our soul tuned to your show above all others and enjoyed it for a time. Now you’ve chosen to join the ranks of others in this arena as promoting England over the US.

    Your points about Mexico are generally accurate since this is after all a post about Hugo Sanchez. Mexican Football suffers from the same bias in this country as MLS or American Soccer. So does everything that’s not British enough for our commentators. Mexico’s players are generally more skilled and more technical than British players and quite honestly are better also.

    Only in the US and the UK are the England National Team viewed as some sort of world power and their players as world class. Laughs are abound in Argentina, Italy, Germany or yes even Mexico if you mention the name Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard along with the best players from those nations. What we’ve done in this country is put the Premier League on a pedestal in this country because of a common language bond and the fact that the game is faster and thus must be better than anywhere else.

    England has four very good teams. Look at how poor the PL teams fared in the UEFA Cup, yet you claim no American except Donovan could beat out someone like Lescott or Downing? That’s totally laughable.

    I’m not sure I am going to listen to the show anymore if you are going to rip the US and promote the British game. Your show and your commentary is simply a refined echo chamber if that is the case.

  8. Joe says:

    Sanchez’s biggest mistake was to claim he could get dramatic results right away. Beating the US, winning the Gold Cup, beating Argentina, etc. Sanchez’s demise began the day he boasted about how much better Mexico would be under him than under Lavolpe.

    As far as the British thing that seems to be hotly debated here, I have little use for British Football or the Premier League. I am of the opinion that the media here is very biased towards anything English. That’s why Lalas said what he did a year ago about the Premier League. It was as much a reaction to the blow hards here than anything else.

  9. Ray says:

    Good post except for sucking up to England.

    Any ideas on a successor? Perhaps Lapuente comes back?

  10. Uncle Ed says:

    Kartik,
    Eggcelent post! I’d like to criticize you like the rest of the fellas above but it seems our lives run in complete parallels! Suffice to say I’m glad Mexico sacked Sanchez. Now lets see who Mexico brings in. They have sooooo much talent. I hope for our sake (USA) that whoever does come will be succesful but still never beat the red white and blue!

  11. eplnfl says:

    Well, I would like to express my thanks to the FMF for dumping Sanchez. While his large salary versus little result up to this time lead to his downfall, it seems to me that by World Cup time he could have been hard to beat. The young players need sometime to work things out and the Mexican football association just couldn’t wait. Sanchez may have lacked a heavy hand and maybe thought of as a players coach, but many a coach is made great by great talent. It looks like Sanchez won’t get his chance.

  12. Kartik says:

    Good feedback everyone. Any thoughts on whose next for Mexico?

  13. Ray says:

    England is a joke. I doubt Kartik really meant to suck up to them. To be honest I hate England much more than I hate Mexico. At least I respect some Mexican players and fans and know they respect us…..but England. They are arrogant, jingoistic, xenophobic, racist know nothings.

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