All they have to do is review their history. The last few match-ups between these two teams have been epic battles. Even before the Olympics, in an international friendly, Mexico put the smack down on this team. People argued it was a fluke until the *unthinkable happened — Mexico beat out Brazil for the gold medal last summer.
When: Today, June 19 at 12 p.m. PDT
Watch: ESPN, ESPN3 stream
And if we need a little inspiration to get behind the team, the player and the Chepo, just take a look at what happens when you leave it all out on the field.
PHOTOS: All from 2012 Olympic medal game held at Wembley Stadium last August.
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.
- Mexico vs. USA, 2014 World Cup qualifying: Pressure all on El Tri (sbnation.com)
- US journeys to ‘hell’ in Mexico (sports.yahoo.com)
- Zac Lee Rigg: For the first time, Chepo looks uncomfortable as Mexico boss (goal.com)
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.
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.
- Oh, those Greeks: Brothels rescue cash-strapped soccer team (Daily News)
- Hookers Sponsor Greek Soccer Team (newser.com)
- The heavy punches of Mexican soccer (fiatme.wordpress.com)
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
- Mexico downs Guyana in late scoring thriller (examiner.com)
- You: Guyana vs. Mexico: Dominant Win Shows Mexico Will Run Away with Group B (bleacherreport.com)
- U.S., Canada one step closer to World Cup qualifying (oddonion.com)
As the U-20 World Cup continues in Colombia, FIFA gave us a behind-the-scenes look at some of the teams and players. The 80-photo gallery has some great shots of players stretching in tunnels, holding hands with little children, praying/reflecting on the game at hand. There are a handful of photos of impromptu shrines set up in each locker room, such as Mexico’s to the Virgen de Guadalupe.
For me, though, the most visually appealing of these photos focused on shoes. I felt as if I’d walked into a pop art exhibit with all the bright, neon colors on display. Here are a few I liked, but you should check out the full gallery.
Oh, and shout-out to el tri who play Brazil in the semis this Wednesday night 6 p.m. PST.
PHOTOS courtesy of FIFA (from top): The Mexican team’s boots are laid out prior to the round-of-16 game against Cameroon; a nice trio in Ecuador’s locker room; a different day, a different set up of Ecuador’s kits and cleats; close-up of Mexican player’s boots.
Twice this week, I’ve seen an Olympic goal. Once on television and once live from the stadium. One in the most dramatic of situations and one, just slightly less so. One was from a scrawny teenager and one was from the creme of the soccer crop. Olympic goals are rare. So rare, I haven’t a clue what they’re called in English. I’m using the Spanish terminology here — gol olimpico. So here’s a definition: A straight-to-the goal, unassisted shot off a corner kick.
The first one was earlier in the week during the U-17 World Cup semifinals in Mexico. Host Mexico was down 2-1 to favorite Germany. A crazy shot from 16-year-old Jorge Espericueta’s corner in the 76th minute goes high up in the air, arcs perfectly and finds a tiny open spot between goalie, defender and even a fellow teammate rushing to pushing it in, if need be. Brilliant.
That teammate — Julio Gomez — threw himself into that play and into a player. So hard he ended up bleeding all over the place and needing to bandage his head. What a way to end a game, right? Wrong! Fool came back and, well, here’s a snippet from Dirty Tackle…
Then, to take the already dramatic situation to a level that would even make Hollywood vomit over the sheer perfection of it all, Gomez returned to the pitch with a massive bandage around his head. And on another corner in the 89th minute, Gomez executed an excellent over(bandaged)head kick to score the winner and his second goal of the game.
[btdubs… if you find a replay of this game, watch it. Yeah, they’re kids. But one of the best games I’ve seen]
Onto the second. It happened last night when the Galaxy were playing Chicago Fire. Galaxy scored their first goal early on in the second half, but Chicago came back to even things out again. Then, enter David Beckham. Enough said. He takes a corner kick; defense kicks it out. Another corner from the other side of the field. Beks runs to the other side. Takes a breath. Takes a step. Takes a kick. Takes a GOL!!!!!
- Beckham’s corner kicks douse Fire (soccerbyives.net)
- LA Galaxy Vs. Chicago Fire: David Beckham Wins It For LA (sbnation.com)
- Uruguay, Mexico on to FIFA U-17 World Cup final (cbc.ca)
After blazing a trail a victories through the last couple months, Mexico’s national team has punched through to the Top 10 in FIFA’s world rankings. Vacillating between a meaningless ranking or a prestigious honor (largely dependent on where my team lies), today we’re squarely in the Hell Yeah camp.
Since the last time the rankings were published in May, Mexico jumped 19 points.
Here’s a little bit of history on Mexico, courtesy of FIFA:
- Best Move: +19 points woohoo
- Highest Position: 4th place (the latest in May 2006)
- Worst Position: 33rd place
- Where we spent most of the year: 27th place
- Overall average: 13th place
Frankly, the best part about these rankings is that Mexico’s ascendance pushed Argentina down. It’s petty and nondescript. But I like seeing Mexico above Argentina after how much they’ve wronged us. Hello, goal-line technology.
And speaking of Argentina….
That’s a nice little segue into the Copa America that started late last week. On paper it’s a tournament of the 10 CONMEBOL teams plus two invitees. This year, it’s Mexico and Costa Rica. Mexico — of course not one to join a party without a little scandal — is not considered a favorite. And that’s because this tournament is like a mini World Cup. Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and, yes, Argentina brought out their A games and A teams. Slow start with 4 ties in the first matchups, but I fully expect this to rev up soon enough.
If my recommendation isn’t enough, Bleacher Report has five unimpeachable reasons to tune in this month.
Chícharito! You’ve just won your first Cup victory with El Tri, taken the MVP award and the golden boot to boot. What are you going to do now?
Maybe he won’t go to Disneyland… but he was in Southern California this weekend. It’s not a far detour.
Though he didn’t score any goals in the final match against the USA, he did score seven of Mexico’s 22 goals throughout the tournament.
Like he said in an Univision video (at 58 seconds): “Aquí lo que importa es que ganamos, aquí no importa quien meta los goles… al contrario, [importa] quien está ahí para poder apoyar ya sea dentro o fuera de la cancha.”
Translation: What matters here is that we won, not who scored the goals. On the contrary, what matters is who is there to be able to support either on or off the field.
Gold Cup is now in the rear view. On the horizon, Sub-17 World Cup, Women’s World Cup, Copa America and Brazil 2014. Yo Chícharito, do you think México will take that Big Cup?
¿y por qué no?
- México, adiós Copa Oro y bienvenida Copa América — Univision
Having stayed out of it long enough, here’s my two cents on Fifa v. the hijab.
The facts: the Iran women’s soccer team was disqualified minutes before their match against Jordan. An official said their headscarves were not permitted under FIFA rules, a decision the soccer-ruling body later agreed with. The game was a qualifier for the 2012 Olympic games in London.
Here’s my interpretation.
As a safety concern, it makes total sense. Soccer is a physical sport that uses every part of the body (save hands if you’re not goalie) to control and pass the ball. There’s a fair bit of tugging, elbows, pull-downs, flips in the air and good ol’ fashioned faking falls. So a rule that doesn’t permit covering necks and ears has some bit of logic behind it.
But FIFA has also declared that there will be no religious or political displays on the approx. 100 yards between goals. Brazilians were told not to wear their “I heart Jesus” shirts under their jerseys. An Englishman was fined because he had a three-line message of congratulations and well wishes for Will and Kate. That was deemed political.
But to my knowledge, no one was fined and no fingers were wagged last summer when Spain won the World Cup and a couple players–Puyol and Xavi, both FC Barca players–started waving the Catalan flag. Is that not political?
As a safety measure, I agree with FIFA that rules should be in place to protect players. Making modifications to women’s headscarves that both comply with safety requirements and are accepted by the people wearing them is a good step.
But FIFA waded into some quicksand with blanket statements regarding politics and religion without properly thinking it through. Worse yet, they’ve left them up to ad-hoc decisions, which seems even more ridiculous. Have some order here!
Was the the intent to strip away potentially offensive distractions? I get it, games are cardio for fans too. Heartbeats rise. Blood-alcohol levels rise. Tempers flare. People have come to blows, bows and bludgeons. They have died for wearing the wrong colors, sitting in the wrong section or cheering for the wrong team.
And in pursuit of that it seems FIFA has a say over what a player wears under their kit (See Brazil). Or what a player wears on their head (See Iran). But what about what a player does on the field? When Chicharito takes a knee at the start of the game or does a sign of the cross after he scores a goal, what of that?
Let’s reflect — if that’s not too religious — for a moment that soccer is, in itself, a religion.
Does that make FIFA the glacially paced bureaucracy that’s out of touch with the real world? Religious diversity exists. Female Muslim players exist. Something fair, well-thought-out and not-half-assed should be put in place so FIFA doesn’t keep looking like the Big Bad that’s not taking into consideration a religion dating back about 1400 years.
PHOTOS: Top from WashPost of Iran Women’s Soccer team, Puyol and Xavi hold up Catalan flag during last summer’s World Cup; Chicharito prays on the field
- Iranian Soccer Team DQ’ed Over Muslim Headscarves (foxnews.com)
- Soccer: Iran and FIFA clash over hijab kit (politics.ie)
- FIFA Say Iran’s Women Were Warned About Dress (nytimes.com)
- Iran Protests Hajib Ban (goal.blogs.nytimes.com)
In case you missed Wednesday’s friendly between Mexico and Bosnia-Herzegovina, here’s a recap. Mexico won. Chicharito scored. A streaker stormed the field. And Cruz Azul goalie Jose de Jesus Corona was named MVP.
I’m leaving the analysis to the experts who get paid to talk about how great or disappointing little pea was. That’s not what this post is about. This is about Corona—Jota Jota not the beer.
What I came away with is that Mexico may have dropped in standing worldwide, it may not be able to show better than quarterfinals at a World Cup, but it remains consistent in its streak of good-looking goalies. Those are really the stats that matter, right? And that’s the reference the title of this post makes… Iker being quite smashing.
A.) Starting in the 1990s, Jorge Campos, goalie during the 1994 and 1998 games, was one of the most eccentric goalies who loved to play outside the box (likely residue from his other field position when not in goal—striker). But if you could just peel away the distracting elements of his, umm, ‘colorful’ attire and the voluminous ’90s haircut, you’d realize… not too shabby.
B.) Oscar Perez overlaps with Campos, especially in the late-1990s. He was called up to the 1998 games in France and 2002 Japan/Korea with him. And, again, in 2010 as one of the oldest mo-fos playing. (I’m looking at you too, Cuau!) I’m not saying it was easy finding a suitably attractive photo of the man. I will say there is some value in that shaved-head, no nonsense, tough guy, goateed look he sports. You be the judge.
C.) With Oswaldo Sanchez, we return to the pretty boys of the goal. The Santos goalkeeper has been called up for three World Cups, beginning with France in 1998. It wasn’t until Germany 2006, that he became the top guy between the posts. His one flaw—and really could it be considered a flaw?—is that he’s dangerously close to a unibrow. Personally, I think that’s needed to keep him from being too pretty.
D.) Luis Michel was the third goalie that Javier Aguirre took with him to South Africa last summer. The Chivas goalie became captain of his team last year and oversaw their historic 8-0 opening run and he was the talk of the town in last summer’s Copa Libertadores.
E.) Here we have Memo Ochoa. One of The Faces of the Mexican national team. Anywhere you turn you see this guy with his bouncy curls—commercials, billboards, etc. Too bad for all that hype you didn’t see a minute of him in South Africa. Aguirre preferred the more experienced Conejo to this baby face of Club America. Now, he’s the national frontrunner…
F.) I say ‘now’ because after Wednesday night’s performance and what seems like an incredible work ethic. Jota Jota Corona from Cruz Azul could take the top spot. He’s got the qualifications—called to the national team, called to a World Cup (No. 2 in Germany), quick reflexes, impressive saves… chiseled features.
PHOTO: Corona blocks a shot during Mexico’s 2-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina; pics of Jorge Campos, Oscar Perez, Oswaldo Sanchez, Luis Michel, Memo Ochoa, Chuey Corona