Players selected to play on Mexico’s national team are sticking to scripted answers
Por: Ivan Orozco
The players selected to play on Mexico’s national team are sticking to scripted answers. SanDiegoRed.com
The scene was typical.
Reporters herded like cattle to a designated area. There, they met José Manuel de la Torre, the new head coach of Mexico’s national soccer team, for a makeshift news conference.
De La Torre or, “El Chepo” as he’s nicknamed in Mexico, spoke about El Tri’s exhibition matches against Paraguay in Oakland on Saturday and against Venezuela in San Diego next Tuesday.
He answered the typical questions about leading preparations for El Tri, about how players selected to the national team don’t have a secured slot and how others in the Mexican league also have a shot to be selected.
“The ones who are selected are not in jeopardy of losing their slot based on one game’s performance, let’s make that clear,” de la Torre said after El Tri finished a light practice at the San Diego Jewish Academy on Monday. “This is the basis of a selective process to see how these players play.”
And it was the players he chose to come here that also gave the same politically correct answers like robots. It was almost as if they repeated memorized lines.
Even one of his youngest and most popular players has learned them. Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who has reached stardom with his recent success at Manchester United, gave stale answers no matter the question.
“No, everything has been going well, thank God, and I am happy to be here with the national team,” he said.
De La Torre, Hernández and the rest of Mexico’s players understand they must remain tight-lipped. There is no room for controversial comments or unwanted distractions from within.
They understand Mexico is trying to regain some respect among soccer’s elite.
There is an understanding that there is a new era in Mexican soccer after “El Chepo” took over in October. There is a need for redemption for an underachieving team.
Mexico has an abundance of resources and tools. It has one of the world’s richest soccer federations. It has talented players on prestigious European clubs. It has the infrastructure and national league to produce talent.
So, why is Mexico not a world powerhouse?
Mexico has disappointed in the last two World Cups, losing to Argentina in the Round of 16 in 2006 and last summer in South Africa.
It hasn’t won a prestigious international tournament outside of North America since beating Brazil in the Confederations Cup final in 1999.
Winning the 2011 Gold Cup this summer would put Mexico back into the Confederations Cup, ironically, to be held in Brazil 2013 before the next World Cup there.
So, Mexico’s quest to become an international champion means preparing in San Diego to compete in the Gold Cup.
The team will continue training sessions through Thursday at the Jewish Academy before flying to Oakland on Friday and returning to San Diego late Saturday night.
Preparations will continue here next week.
That’s why de la Torre has called what is virtually the 2010 World Cup squad to train. All its Europe-based players are here. Giovanni Dos Santos, Andrés Guardado and Efraín Juárez joined the team at their Torrey Pines hotel Monday night.
It is to be seen which players make the Gold Cup roster but chances are the ones here in San Diego will be on it. It is the Mexican squad fans want to see. And they want to see it win when it matters.