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When life imitates CONCACAF

Art imitates life; life imitates art. Nothing new there.

But my life, yesterday, was imitating CONCACAF. Not just any old aspect of the local soccer confederation, I speak of the World Cup qualifying tournament.

Here’s the group standings going into yesterday’s games.

concacaf-standings-halfway

 

As you can plainly see, after winning one game a week ago, Mexico leapfrogged out of the trouble zone. There’s a bit of a clusterfrack going on at the top, but at least it’s at the top. Three teams all have 7 points. Panama is closing in with 6, and Honduras and Jamaica are bringing up the rear.

After the games, the board got shuffled a bit. US beat Panama and set itself as the sole leader of the conference. Honduras picked up a few points by beating Jamaica. And Mexico did what it does — it didn’t lose — to Costa Rica. They tied.

So now this is what the most current standings look like.

concacaf-WCQstandings-june11

 

And now, my life (which in this instance will be portrayed by my bowling league).

IMG_2160Competition is tight. There are 10 teams and two are tied with 12 points at the top of the leader board. Yours truly, among them (kinda like Mexico). The next three teams have 11 points. And so on …

Going into Tuesday night’s games, there was a strong sense to not mess up (kinda like Mexico).

But, when all was said and done, 14 Dollar Salad came away splitting the difference. We won two games, lost two. So, we tied (kinda like Mexico).

And because other teams were living up to their respective pressures, we fell in the standings (kinda like Mexico).

Not down and out, by any means, but definitely a little further down than anyone would like to be (kinda like … ).

 

PHOTOS: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying standings on June 7 and June 11. My bowling standings after Week 5.

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Missing 3 more

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The last few World Cup qualifying matches have come at inopportune times for me. So when Friday’s game between Mexico and Panama was scheduled for 7 p.m., I made it a priority to sit down, sit back and enjoy it.

I got my seat at the bar. I got my beer. I even got my game on three different screens. What I didn’t get was my THREE POINTS!!!

Again we tied. How tiresome. And now we’re in a three-way tie with 7 points. Silver lining recognition: At least Mexico has moved out of the danger zone.

Time to ratchet up the pressure.

TRI v Reggae Boyz, Take 2

mex-jam-CONCACAFfeb

After taking a ridiculously long time to allow us to lick our wounds and fret about the possibilities of making World Cup plans without a World Cup presence, CONCACAF qualifications are finally back into full swing tomorrow.

It’s been a boring start to the hexagonal. Mexico, with zero losses and three points, sits in the fifth spot. The top 3 teams get automatic bids and the fourth-place team must play to the death against New Zealand.

The only team worse off than us is Jamaica.

And so the stage is set. The second leg of this match-up will be played in Kingston, where I hope we can neutralize their home-field advantage the way they did ours earlier this year.

In a few hours, there may be calls of Sí se pudo and Presidente Chepo. Or I’ll go dark … again.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

Tuesday, June 4 – 6:30 p.m. PT
Telemundo

Remaining TRI JUNE CONCACAF Qualifiers

Friday, June 7 – 7 p.m. PT
Panama v. Mexico
Panama City

Tuesday, June 11 – 5 p.m. PT
Mexico v. Costa Rica
Estadio Azteca

PHOTO: Chicharito goes up against Jamaican goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts during the first CONCACAF hexagonal in Estadio Azteca in February.

Sometimes, there are no words

nowei-record

And sometimes, more words are needed!

No manches, güey

No mames, güey

No chingues, güey

En serio, güey?

No friegues, güey

No puede ser, güey

Que pedo, güey

Se la perdio, güey

Güüüüeeeeeeeyyyyyyy

Photo from Récord

WCQ WTF

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What the frack is wrong with this picture??!!!!?

The top three regional teams automatically qualify for Brazil 2014. The fourth-place team is on the bubble and has to play against another confederation team to secure a spot.

Mexico has had a lackluster start to CONCACAF hexagonal play, which has put it squarely below average in standings. It has a measly 2 points. We need a win and it needs to happen TODAY.

And with all the pressure on them, TRI hosts the US team in Estadio Azteca. Fingers crossed the crowd doesn’t start booing the home team again. Bring your umbrellas. Beer and pee will rain down from 7,900 feet.

 

What?! You think this is a game?!!

maza_bird

Yep. That’s kinda how we all feel, Maza.

Yesterday, during the hexagonal kickoff match against Jamaica in Estadio Azteca, Mexico put on such a lackluster show and failed to capitalize on its home-field advantage. You’re playing in the clouds practically (7,900-foot elevation)!! MAKE THEM RUN.

It got so bad that fans started booing our own team and cheering every time Jamaica had the ball. I’m sure the captain didn’t appreciate any of that.

We scraped by with 1 point, by the grace of God. Read:  By the blessings of Jesus.

Jose de Jesus Corona was the one person responsible for keeping Mexico, the regional leader, from falling oh-so-hard from grace. Aside from that spectacular diving save, Chuy had a few more moments where he punched out incoming shots and smothered balls during one-on-one breakaways.

Good stats, of course, for any goalie. But not when that goalie represents a team that has been on the rise. Get your shit together, guerreros. This isn’t a game anymore. It’s a fight to the World Cup.

PHOTO: Mexico captain Francisco ‘MAZA’ Rodriguez flipped off camera while Corona gives interview. Irony, here, is that Corona is the loose cannon you should watch out for off-field antics.

Hexagonal resource: Mexico trading cards

Today is the official start to the CONCACAF Hexagonal — the Road to Brazil 2014. The six regional teams are all facing each other over the course of the year in their qualifying run toward the World Cup.

February 6 Matches

Honduras – United States
Panama – Costa Rica
Mexico – Jamaica

Unless you’ve been following every single move the Mexican teams have been making these last few months, today’s game will offer some familiar and newbie faces. Well-known players include CHICHARITO, Giovani DOS SANTOS, Andrés GUARDADO, Maza RODRIGUEZ, Aldo DE NIGRIS, and Carlos SALCIDO. Of course, my boy Chuy CORONA will also be keeping riff raff out of Azteca’s nets.

But the squad that’s playing Jamaica also includes a ton of young blood that has been called up to the main team. There are handful of U23 players who debuted during 2011 Copa America (and some who were suspended during the prostitution robbery mess). Plus, some members were part of the winning squad during the 2011 Pan American Games, and 2012 Toulon Tournament. And, by my count, there are nine Olympic gold medalists. I’m surprised they found room on this roster for Chicharito. What am I saying? There’s always room for Chicharito.

So here are my trading cards for four players. A few I know you’ve seen before and will likely see play today. Some may be brand new information. I’d do more, but who has that kind of time. Perhaps over the course of the games …

♦♦♦


Age: 22
Plays for Villareal CF, Spain’s Segunda Division
Mexico: 2012 London Olympics, 2011 Pan American Games, 2011 Copa America

♦♦♦

Age: 23
Plays for CF Monterrey, Liga MX
Mexico: 2012 London Olympics, 2011 Pan American Games, 2011 Copa America

♦♦♦

mfabian_tc

Age: 23
Plays for Guadalajara, Liga MX
Mexico: 2012 London Olympics, 2012 Toulon Tournament, 2011 Copa America*

♦♦♦

csaucedo_tc

Age: 31
Plays for Tijuana Xoloitzcuincles de Caliente, Liga MX, Apertura champions
Mexico: Played 45 minutes during Jan. 30 friendly against Denmark

Por ser día de tu santo …

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I just want to give a huge shout-out to my TRI-ista-in-arms and occasional running buddy, who celebrates a birthday today. And she timed it well — right before the start of the CONCACAF hexagonal stage. There’ll hopefully be much to celebrate today and in the coming months on the road toward Brazil 2014.

Just 493 days left!!

Los pajarillos cantan qué?

 

Greece’s tramp-stamp of approval

Just last week, I was railing against the FIFA man (as I’m prone to do) for its dilapidated, anachronistic way of ranking national teams. As a person of Mexican descent, I’m fiercely proud and possessive of the soccer team.

Look. No puedo tapar el sol con un dedo. Let’s put the cards on the table. It’s a terrible economy. Poverty and corruption have run amok. Drug lords rule with intimidation and grisly violence. And, the cherry on top, un BEEP HIJO DE LA BEEP BEEEEEEP is going to lead the country for the next six years. So yeah, I take out all my frustrations on FIFA for not recognizing one of Mexico’s current bright, shiny spots.

But I was too harsh…

Part of my rant included laying out the English and Greeks. I won’t apologize for the English, but the Greeks certainly didn’t deserve it. And, more so, now that I’ve learned of the clever revenue sources for their soccer teams—Prostitutes!

They’re plucky! And, they’re in dire straits. Worse even than Mexico right now. Who am I to disparage their one bright, shiny spot? A Top 10 ranking on the national stage is like the sun on a cloudy day.

I take it back, Greece. Meant no offense. I tip my pimp hat to you and your lady-of-the-night uniform tramp stamps. ¡OPA!

PHOTOS: Just can’t blot out the sun. And the “Villa Erotica” tramp-stamp of approval on a Greek soccer jersey.

The heavy punches of Mexican soccer


This is a jab – jab – uppercut of Mexican national soccer news. Mainly because I’ve been lazy and continuing my MIA phoning-it-in session.

FIFA is starting to make amends with me. In September, they had the gall to place Mexico out of the top 20. For October, after two World Cup qualifying wins against Costa Rica, they have reinstated the tricolores in the top 20. We’re now, according to FIFA, #19. *shouldershrug* I still think the big European bureaucracy is operating from a deficit model. If it’s not European (or to a larger extent, South American), it’s not good football.

How else to explain England at no. 5, Greece at #10 (who played against 110th ranked Lithuania)??

Because of Mexico’s wins against Costa Rica, they’re assured advancing to the next round of CONCACAF’s World Cup qualification. And so we were more than accommodating when Guyana wanted to change their “home” game to a “neutral” site — Texas. I don’t know/care for the rationale that led Guyana to choose Texas as a neutral site when the USMNT struggles to find home-field advantage at times against Mexico.

That’s beside the point. I’m sure the drubbing that occurred Friday night would have happened in any location.

Mexico delivered a late-round TKO. After a frustrating 77 minutes of attack-after-scoreless-attack, the ball finally found the back of the net, thanks to Andres Guardado. What followed was a flurry of five goals in eight minutes. Once again, because that bears repeating, that’s FIVE goals in EIGHT minutes. That’s an average of a goal every minute and 36 seconds.

Of course, one of them was an own goal by Guyana. But that shit’s bound to happen when the action is perpetually parked in front of your goal.

Next up, Mexico enters the ring with El Salvador on Tuesday. Will it be another 10 rounds? Will Mexico land some punches early on? Will it get caught on the ropes? Will I stop making boxing references? I think so.

PHOTO: Guyana knocked out! skadoosh