Sven Goran Eriksson confers with Cuauhtemoc Blanco/Reuters Photo
El Tri’s come from behind victory against Honduras in the first match of group play Wednesday at Azteca should not be an occasion to gloss over the very real problems CONCACAF’s traditional superpower faces. Honduras’ ability to control large portions of the match at Azteca with a squad that was built to counter attack. Particularly impressive were Amado Guevara and David Suazo. Mexico’s problems continue to be apparent from match to match. Wasteful possession, an emphasis on theatrics and an inability to control the midfield. Mexico’s teams have recently become less and less competitive on the world stage. Recent losses to Guatemala, Honduras and Panama (within the last three years) highlight that CONCACAF’s midddle tier may not have caught Mexico yet but on any given matchday they can beat El Tri.
Sven Goran Eriksson was hired as the new Mexican Head Coach to help solve these problems. Eriksson’s resume is long but his success as an international manager is thin. In Sven’s first competitive match in charge Mexico looked flustered and confused at times and played with a lack of composure. Youthful starlets Gio Dos Santos and Carlos Vela were both ineffective and seemed to lack ideas in the area. Andreas Guardado another youngster whose play elevated Mexico youth teams to among the world’s best recently has had more bad giveaways in the last three Mexico matches I have watched than Michael Bradley has for the United States.
The recall of Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Guille Franco indicate a certain degree of dissatisfaction by Eriksson with the youngsters. Pavel Pardo who scored both late goals against Honduras and Jared Borgetti who probably should be recalled for Mexico’s next qualifiers are not going to be around much longer. Mexico’s youngsters however have shown an immaturity and a lack of understanding of international football to be successful. Under a manager like Eriksson who failed to get the best out of a very talented England team between 2001 and 2006, my guess is that Dos Santos, Vela, Guardado, and Guillermo Ochoa will not achieve what they are capable of as internationals.
The fear factor that Mexico held over Central American opponents for some many years has dissipated. Baring some sort of revolutionary tactical sense instilled by Sven Goran Eriksson or a sudden surge in confidence, Mexico appears to be on a downward swing that cannot be stopped. Hiring a foreign manager whose understand of Mexican football is minimal and whose accomplishments with England were virtually non existent could simply accelerate this process.