Will Blanco Save Mexico?
Mexican Football is in a state of panic. The high priced cosmopolitan foreign manager, Sven Goran Eriksson has not worked out. Rafa Marquez seems adrift as a captain and many an El Tri supporter wonders if he’d be better off focusing on his Barca career and simply becoming a squad player for Mexico. The nation is divided about the continued naturalization of players and the slow ascent of golden boys, Gio Dos Santos and Carlos Vela.
What has been missed by many an observer is that Mexico’s recent slide may trace itself back to the day Ricardo Lavolpe kicked Cuauhtémoc Blanco off the national team. Blanco’s return under Sven Goran Eriksson led to three consecutive El Tri victories. In the toughest match of the trio against Honduras, Blanco almost single handidly brought the Mexicans back to life drawing foul and excelling in open play.
Blanco had played occasionally under Hugo Sanchez, but was given a minimal role. Eriksson however, featured Blanco prominently in his first three matches in charge. Following a win over Canada, Blanco called it quits under the assumption he had hit the magic 100 cap mark for Mexico. He stated his focus would not be on his club side, the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.
But FIFA has since ruled Blanco has only 97 official “A” caps, and more importantly Mexico has one points in it’s four qualifying matches since Blanco’s international retirement. If Sven Goran Eriksson is going to survive as El Tri boss in the midst of a crisis at home he may need to talk Blanco back out of retirement.
A return to the national team for Blanco would provide stability in the clubhouse for team divided: young starlets against older players, naturalized players against native born players, those who favor a more Mexican style to those who favor the continental tactical setup Eriksson has employed. In short, bringing Blanco back may stop the bleeding.
Additionally this would be a great accomplishment for Major League Soccer at a time when MLS’ other high profile international is embarassing the league and acting like a spoiled child. Blanco has accomplished infinately more than the petulant David Beckham in MLS, and a return to international football would likely reflect very well on the league.