In 2013, the Mexican national team has looked and played like a team who, despite a few flashes here and there, has been devoid of any consistent attacking play.
On Wednesday night, Mexico took on Panama in a semifinal game with the winner getting a chance to play the United States, who won its semifinal match an hour before the kickoff to their game. Just like Panama did in the first game of the tournament in defeating Mexico 2-1, it ended Mexico’s Gold Cup with a defeat by the same score in the semifinals.
The game served as a microcosm of the Mexican national team under coach Jose Manuel De La Torre. During 2013, De La Torre had come off as being a coach who has been confused and insecure with himself. During the Gold Cup, Mexico has not been solid on defense, at times looking confused and insecure of themselves.
Panama opened the scoring as it took advantage of a Joel Huiqui bad pass to teammate Alejandro Castro to take the 1-0 lead. Just as it seemed like Mexico would finally be made to pay for its poor play in the tournament, the team found the equalizer thanks to a spectacular individual play from Marco Fabian, who sent a cross into the penalty area for Luis Montes to thunder away into goal.
But just as the feeling that Mexico could somehow once again unjustly pull out another win in this tournament, confusion and insecurity on the part of the defense resurfaced as Roman Torres scored the game-winner for Panama on a corner kick where he was left unmarked.
While Mexico had several quality opportunities to equalize, their flirtation with getting away with winning while not playing well rightfully came to an end, and it will be Panama who plays the United States in the final on Sunday.
For Mexico, the performance of the team during the tournament was flat-out uninspiring and devoid of any cohesion on attack — essentially what the story of the team has been for all of 2013.
As far as where they go from here, it is clear that De La Torre should be the better man and fall on the sword and resign as coach. A team reflects the best and worst qualities of its coach and it is clear that as long as De La Torre remains in charge, Mexico will play as a confused and insecure team.
What a change from almost a year ago; Mexico was celebrating a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics with the future looking bright, and now they look like a team in shambles. Time has come to say goodbye to De La Torre and install the man who won the gold, Luis Fernando Tena, as coach.