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The US Could Learn from Sven

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Sven Goran Eriksson’s appointment as manager of Mexico was criticized by many including myself as a desperate move by the FMF which was eager to regain its footing as the superpower in CONCACAF which Mexico’s fans are entitled to for their years of loyal support. Mexico has not defeated the United States, a fellow CONCACAF nation on American soil in its last ten tries even though the vast majority of these matches have been played in front of large pro Mexican crowds.


The footballing nation in Mexico had clearly suffered a crisis of confidence under its last several national team managers. All of the managers either were Mexican or in the case of Ricardo LaVolpe, the lone foreigner familiar with Mexican football. The hiring of Sven Goran Eriksson whose entire coaching career from 2000 on has been spent in England was a curious choice, especially given the performance of the Three Lions relative to expectations in every tournament.


Without playing a match Eriksson quickly turned the tables on the established order in Mexico. He dropped Jared Borgetti from the team, and named youngsters Gio Dos Santos and Carlos Vela starters. The recall of Guille Franco and Cuauhtémoc Blanco to the national team after being frozen out of the setup for years also showed Eriksson’s willingness to mix the old with the new and essentially mix to disparate generations of players who hadn’t been vital to Hugo Sanchez’s plans.


After falling behind to Honduras at Azteca last month, the insertion of Blanco and Franco in the match turned the tables and Mexico won 2-1. This past Saturday evening, the kids made all the impact as El Tri crushed Jamaica 3-0. The lesson of Sven’s early success Mexico should not be lost on US Soccer. Despite having a perceived edge in talent over the United States and players at bigger clubs than anyone in CONCACAF, the integration of two young starlets in the setup is impressive. By contrast, questions remain about the commitment of Bob Bradley to integrate Jozy Altiodre and Freddy Adu, both roughly the same age as the Mexican youngsters in the US setup.


The success of Sven Goran Eriksson is ironic coming so quickly after the sale of Manchester City FC by Thaskin Shinawatra. Sven’s move to Mexico seems to have paid initial dividends for a passionate but underachieving footballing nation while vindicating Eriksson’s reputation after mixed reviews for his work with England and Manchester City.


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  1. Pingback: cuauhtemoc blanco

  2. Marc

    September 10, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Good piece. I think Bradley continues to lose the plot for the US. Look at what Walcott did today for England. You don't want Adu or Altidore doing that for us, BB?

  3. Xavier

    September 10, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Sven is actually Mexico's savior.

    He's done more to save Mexico than any other.

    The US better watch out. They soon will be the ones struggling in CONCACAF.

  4. Svenalike

    September 10, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Only a few media hacks chose to brand Eriksson's tenure with the England national squad a “failure”.
    The unequalled record of only five competitive games lost 2001-2006 (two qualifyers and three quarter finals) has left Sven in the highest esteem with most of the British public and soccer fans with a recent poll giving him an amazing 90%+ approval rating, even though “Sven-bashing” still remains within certain (xenophobic?) media quarters.
    Svennis is ranked as England's second most successful coach and has an almost unchallenged history of success in club and international soccer and it will be very “interesting” to see how he is appreciated by The Mexican Federation and El Tri fans as he brings his skills to their progress their qualifying route to Africa 2010 after his perfidious treatment by some of the British press and the English FA.
    England's (and MCFC's) loss looks very much like Mexico's potential gain?

  5. lsmetana

    September 10, 2008 at 7:26 am

    Sven Goran Eriksson has taken a lot of bashing from the English press over his management of England but what has anyone done since him? McClaren failed to get them to Euro 2008 and now under Capello there does not seem to be much improvement. The focus became his indiscretion with the FA secretary as that's what the tabloid rags were interested in.

    Sven is a good manager and Mexico are benefiting from his experience at the highest levels. I think they will cruise through their group and it will be interesting to see what they can do at the next World Cup.

  6. arvin

    September 9, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    an this whole time I thought you just didn't understand the reason for his hiring. With every new generation comes a new system under a new coach- No one in FMF is desperate, we only want the right D.T to make the most of mexicos superiority and dominace.Especially with the current crop of talent that has presented mexico with it's strongest world cup competitor ever. More so then any other lineup in mexicos history. Unfortunately Hugo was un-able to exploits it's full potential and suffered the consequences.

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