Commentary

History is on Osorio's side

Two years ago, Mexico beat Jamaica to win the Gold Cup and within 48 hours its coach, Miguel Herrera, was fired following an incident with a Mexican reporter at Philadelphia's airport. On Sunday, Mexico lost to Jamaica in the Gold Cup semifinals, and the drumbeat "Fuera, Osorio" grew.

Will Juan Carlo Osorio, who replaced Herrera as head coach, survive yet another early exit from a major tournament?

Osorio survived when Mexico lost to Chile, 7-0, at the 2016 Copa Centenario. The cries for his ouster grew after El Tri fell to Germany's "B" team, 4-1, in the 2017 Confederations Cup semifinals.

The only thing Osorio has in his defense after Mexico lost to Jamaica at the Rose Bowl, 1-0, was he was fielding a "B" team and when he sought to recall key players from his "A" team for the group stage of the Gold Cup -- like Bruce Arena did successfully for the USA -- he was rebuffed by Mexico's club owners who control the Mexican federation.

Mexican federation president Decio de Maria had given Osorio, who was born in Colombia and educated in the USA, where he began his coaching career, a vote of confidence between the quarterfinal win over Honduras and semifinal loss.

"We're coming up to two years," de Maria told reporters, "and we are increasingly convinced that he is the coach to lead this project and World Cup process."

That vote of confidence alone won't allow keep JCO in his job. Mexican owners are notorious for firing national team coaches. El Tri had four coaches over six games at the end of its World Cup qualifying campaign: Chepo de la Torre, Luis Fernando Tena, Victor Manuel Vucetich and Herrera.

In Osorio's favor is the history of the Gold Cup. Mexico has reached the final of the Gold Cup in five of the last eight editions -- and won four of them. The three times it failed it reach the final came in 2005, 2013 and 2017 following its participation in the Confederations Cup, which necessitated the selection of a "B" team.

In 2009, the USA went to the Confederations Cup, where it finished second behind Brazil, and then took a "B" team to the Gold Cup. It went one step further than Mexico, advancing to the final, where it was wiped out by El Tri, 5-0.

Gold Cup failure a year out from a World Cup doesn't matter. Only the specter of failing to qualify for the World Cup would change the equation. The four coaches Mexico had in 2013 reflected the panic within Mexican soccer over the possibility that El Tri wouldn't advance to Brazil 2014. Lots of corporate money was on the line.

Mexico doesn't have to worry about qualifying for Russia 2018. Osorio has El Tri in great shape with four wins and two ties after six games.
9 comments about "History is on Osorio's side".
  1. Bob Ashpole, July 25, 2017 at 2:10 a.m.

    Good points, Paul, but will the club owners behave rationally?

  2. Ric Fonseca replied, July 25, 2017 at 2:20 a.m.

    Bob, you did ask a hypothetical question, didn't you?

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, July 25, 2017 at 4:56 a.m.

    It was merely rhetorical Ric.

  4. Jose Melero replied, July 25, 2017 at 5:26 a.m.

    Good points by all above! Amazing how one of the remaining great "soccer countries" to NOT have won a World Cup, continues to meddle at every important juncture only to make another bad decision! I'm always surprised, when the FMF has a coaching vacancy, they actually have candidates! I hope they do make some rational decisions, starting with allowing JCO to make some of his own, especially in Russia 2018.

  5. R2 Dad, July 25, 2017 at 5:41 a.m.

    Good article, Mexico IS in good shape. As far as the WC goes, I haven't read anything about "reasonable expectations". They expect to get out of the group stage, which normally seems likely (absent a group of death). They expect to win a knock-out match, which unless they draw Brazil/Argentina/Italy/France/Spain seems reasonable. Maybe we should ask "Under what circumstances would the public NOT push to fire Osorio"? Mexican quarterfinal win? Exceed expectations is a semifinal? And yet if Mexico gets to the final and collapses from physical/mental exhaustion like they did in the Copa Centario the fans will still be rankled and push to fire him. It seems anything short of a World Cup final victory is failure and I think THAT is unreasonable given the history of the team and quality of the players. Costa Rica lost in PKs at the quarterfinal stage and were deemed a huge success in 2014. I was happy 3 of the last 16 teams in 2014 were from CONCACAF and, given CONCACAF's reputation, means the World Cup was a success for our region.

  6. Edgar Soudek, July 25, 2017 at 9:48 a.m.

    I constantly listen to the various Mexican/US-based talkshows(in Spanish),
    and very few, if any, of the moderators come out with rational arguments; several are - quite arrogantly - convinced that Mexico has some sort of God-given obligation to win every single game against CONCACAF opponents; and it is always the moderators who have all the solutions(at least in their own minds), sounding off self-importantly.
    How many of us remember the incredible number of coaches"El Tri" has had since 1990, while in the 27 years since then the US has had maybe five?Please help me out if you remember any others besides Milutinovics, Sampson,
    Arena, Bradley, Klinsmann, Arena again since 1990.
    It is of course much easier for coaches in the US to establish and follow their program, unless things go badly wrong; Mexican football/soccer psyche needs constant and immediate success, and when it doesn't come - smack, the guillotine for the coach!

  7. Nick Daverese replied, July 26, 2017 at 3:47 p.m.

    Everyr American coach except Bob Ganslar his team could not put more then three consecutive passes together have done something to make his team better. Including the ones you mention. I believe if we took all the good pieces and used them instead of discarding everything they did when a new manager came in our team would have been a lot better then they are today.

  8. Edgar Soudek, July 25, 2017 at 10:06 a.m.

    For the stats-buffs among us:
    Mexico has had no fewer than 20 (!!!)
    full-time and interim coaches/tecnicos
    since 1990; the USA 6 - I forgot Gansler
    in 1990....

  9. :: SilverRey :: replied, July 25, 2017 at 12:24 p.m.

    20 coaches 27 years - what could go wrong?

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