A brutal and cruel fate for El Tri

By Rick Olivares, Unblogged Sports | Updated Monday June 30, 2014 - 11:14am
A brutal and cruel fate for El Tri

Mexican players react after the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and Mexico at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, Sunday, June 29, 2014. The Netherlands won the match 2-1. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

When Javier Hernandez returned to Mexico after a year with Manchester United, there was a billboard placed in and around the country that read, "Leave a hero. Come back a legend."

It doesn't only apply to Hernandez, nicknamed "Chicharito" or "Little Pea" by his countrymen, as it does to El Tri, as Mexico's national team is fondly called. After all, they won the Olympic Gold Medal.

In three stellar Group A matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, El Tri was poised not just for legendary status - more so after taking a point from Brazil for the first time in 29 matches in a scoreless draw - but for greater glory.

Then came the shocking and cruel end to their storybook run as the Netherlands scored two goals in the final eight minutes (including stoppage time) to advance to the round of eight. And for the sixth time in Mexico's World Cup history, El Tri has failed to advance to the quarterfinals.

And in a cruel case of symmetry, Mexico's World Cup campaign mirrors their start of their qualification campaign.

After topping the third round of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Football Associations) with a 6-0-0 record, things fell apart badly.

They fell to 2-5-3. They drew their first three matches they defeated Jamaica, 1-nil! One-nil!

Then a 2-1 loss at their home pitch of Estadio Azteca in Mexico City saw the end of Jose Manuel dela Torre's reign.

By the time they faced the US at the Columbus Crew Stadium in Ohio, Luis Fernando Tena was in charge. But a 2-nil loss with goals from Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan saw him sacked after only one match (although he presided over their Olympic Gold Medal triumph in London. With an air of desperation as Mexico fell to fourth in the standings, Victor Vucetich, one of the most decorated managers in Mexican football was called upon to resurrect the country's sagging World Cup fortunes.

It seemed that Vucetich, who was called out of retirement, was the answer as Mexico arrested their skid with a 2-1 win with the game winner coming at the 85th minute courtesy of a Raul Jimenez strike.

But the reverie didn't last as a surging Costa Rica humbled Mexico a second time with a similar 2-1 margin of victory. Vucetich was gone and Mexico's Football Federation asked if their biggest local side, Club America, to manage the team.

In the two-legged qualification match between Mexico and New Zealand, El Tri, obviously much more skilled, crushed the Kiwis, 9-3, to book their World Cup ticket to Brazil.

In that win over New Zealand, Herrera won the hearts of his countrymen by selecting a side that was completely composed of players plying their trade in the La Liga Mexico. Because of the success of Mexican football, players now going abroad, especially to Europe are seen as traitors.

In a tournament of this magnitude, Herrera couldn't simply take the chance. He lined up Villareal's Dos Santos and his brother Jonathan who suits up for Barcelona as well as MUFC's Hernandez. The obvious absence was Carlos Vela, the striker for Real Sociedad who is regarded as Mexico's best footballer but has fallen out with the powers that govern national football.

During Mexico's qualification phase, their most painful loss was their 2-1 defeat to Costa Rica at Azteca Stadium. Their beloved Chicharito had a chance to send Mexico ahead when he found himself with nothing more than an empty net to slot the ball in the 17th minute of the match. However, he bungled his touch and sent the ball to Peralta who was called for offside.

But that is all forgotten now. They'll remember Fortaleza where Mexican hearts were broken like never before. The Wesley Sneijder hammer strike in the 88th minute (and the Dutch midfielder was mostly a woeful sight all match long) and Arjen Robben dropping inside the box from a foul by their captain Rafael Marquez.

It is a brutal and cruel way to go out especially for a side that played so well.

El Tri left Mexico with a lot of hope. They'll come home as heroes but somehow, I don't think there'll be any words to assuage the heartbreak.

Other Related News

comments powered by Disqus
  • Algeria Algeria
  • Argentina Argentina
  • Australia Australia
  • Belgium Belgium
  • Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina
  • BrazilBrazil
  • CameroonCameroon
  • ChileChile
  • ColombiaColombia
  • Costa RicaCosta Rica
  • Côte d'IvoireCôte d'Ivoire
  • CroatiaCroatia
  • EcuadorEcuador
  • EnglandEngland
  • FranceFrance
  • GermanyGermany
  • GhanaGhana
  • GreeceGreece
  • HondurasHonduras
  • IranIran
  • ItalyItaly
  • JapanJapan
  • Korea RepublicKorea Republic
  • MexicoMexico
  • NetherlandsNetherlands
  • NigeriaNigeria
  • PortugalPortugal
  • RussiaRussia
  • SpainSpain
  • SwitzerlandSwitzerland
  • UruguayUruguay
  • USAUSA

TEAM STANDINGS

TEAM STANDINGS
GROUP A
TEAMS WIN LOSS
Brazil 2 3
Mexico 2 1
Croatia 1 2
Cameroon 0 3
GROUP B
TEAMS WIN LOSS
Netherlands 4 1
Chile 2 1
Spain 1 2
Australia 0 3
GROUP C
TEAMS WIN LOSS
Colombia 3 0
Greece 1 1
Côte d'Ivoire 1 2
Japan 0 2
GROUP D
TEAMS WIN LOSS
Costa Rica 2 0
Urugay 2 1
Italy 1 2
England 0 2
GROUP E
TEAMS WIN LOSS
France 2 0
Switzerland 2 1
Ecuador 1 1
Honduras 0 3
GROUP F
TEAMS WIN LOSS
Argentina 5 1
Nigeria 1 1
Bosnia and Herzegovina 0 1
Iran 0 2
GROUP G
TEAMS WIN LOSS
Germany 4 0
USA 1 1
Portugal 1 1
Ghana 0 1
GROUP H
TEAMS WIN LOSS
Belgium 3 1
Algeria 1 1
Russia 0 1
Korea Republic 0 2

 

SCHEDULES

UPCOMING MATCHES
 
27 Jun 2014 - 12:00 AM @ Arena Penambuco
UNITED STATES vs GERMANY
 
27 Jun 2014 - 12:00 AM @ Estadio Nacional
PORTUGAL vs GHANA
 
27 Jun 2014 - 4:00 AM @ Arena da Baxaida
ALGERIA vs RUSSIA
 
27 Jun 2014 - 4:00 AM @ Arena de Sao Paulo
KOREA REPUBLIC vs BELGIUM

 

POLL