SAN DIEGO -- Miguel Herrera dares where others gave in. With a show of testosterone, he decides to not call up the Europe-based players for the playoff against New Zealand. "El Piojo" does this without hesitation and runs risks that the previous coaches would not dare to.
But take note: This course has a series of positive, and risky, angles.
1. Herrera sends a solid signal to the group he has in hand. "I'm happy with the 22 that I have." He signs a pact of brotherhood, of mutual loyalty, with those 22. He signed it first, and now the group, those 22, has to ratify it on the field against New Zealand.
2. He defies the most poisonous, most dangerous, most venomous universe that surrounds the Mexican national team: the promoters, the sponsors and the parasites who make their living from El Tri.
3. In this version of El Tri, there are no media darlings. There are no good-looking or charismatic faces for the advertisers. Perhaps the most handsome of all of them is striker Oribe "Horrible" Peralta, who enjoys popular acclaim.
4. Herrera's points are valid. We have already established that the first game the European players played after being called up was a wasted game. They started to pick up rhythm after a few days. But don't forget, what should have happened in the Confederations Cup didn't, especially because of disciplinary issues that we all know about.
5. Herrera is known for giving priority to the management of groups, not for coddling and adopting individual standout players. He experienced his main test at Club America by being able to reconcile the required performances with its best player, Christian "Chucho" Benítez, who was receiving bad advice from his agent. He reconciled so well that America became the champion.
6. He doesn't break with the principle that brought in this Mexican national coach. He doesn't have to worry about accommodating any other player in the evolution and development of this team of players from Club America, Club Leon and Santos Laguna. He doesn't have to fit square pegs into round holes.
7. The attempt to include a player called up from Europe to satisfy hidden, financial and perverse interests would have undermined and lessened his authority with the current group, which, I repeat, now fully confirms that his principles are for real.
And something else: The players themselves understand this. The only thing that they ask from him, what they want from any coach, is honesty, and what they never stand for is double talk, double standards or being two-faced.
8. Don't think that Herrera is going to go easy. On Wednesday at the news conference, and Thursday exclusively on Raza Deportiva of ESPN Deportes Radio, while confirming that he would not call up the European players, he dwelt repeatedly on his frustrations and worries during the 4-2 victory against Finland: "Naive, individual and unforgivable errors which cost us goals and which we can't allow against New Zealand."
It's worthwhile to underline that the mistakes were mainly from men for whom he went out on a limb: Francisco "Maza" Rodriguez, who was calamitous in the first goal and during general play; Rafa Marquez in the origins of the second goal; and goalie Jesus Corona, who had an uncertain, timid, almost suspicious outing, although the own goal from Juan Carlos "Topo" Valenzuela falls in a way into the slippery category of accidents.
What about the European-based players?
Chicharito has scored three goals and has been the key player in two wins for Manchester United. And he's a person who is mentally strong. Few players would have been able to cope with his relegation to the bench, which he has resisted and overcome with Sir Alex Ferguson and now David Moyes. But in 2013, he still owes El Tri something.
Giovani dos Santos is playing amazingly at Villarreal, but the truth is that for Chepo de la Torre, Luis Fernando Tena and Victor Manuel Vucetich he was a headache when he ignored instructions and fractured the tactical structure of the team.
Along with Chicharito, Hector Moreno is surely one of the players who should be considered for a call-up, especially after the chain of mistakes leading to the Finnish goals, but whether it be stubbornness, conviction or just plain faith, Herrera believes that what he is seeking is right there in his squad, and without a doubt, the time has come to consider even Miguel Herrera of Pachuca for Maza's place, whom he surpasses in technique, speed, strength, heading, reflexes, anticipation and even in coming out playing the ball, although he has several years less experience.
In the end, the important thing is El Piojo's daring and the loyalty of his coaching staff.
He isn't cowed by the myths and legends that surround the Europe-based players, instead following his committed faith in working with whom he signs a pact of mutual loyalty and acting as a sacred principal in the locker room and on the field, the same locker room that had been lost by Chepo and which Vucetich was never able to consolidate.
Will Herrera's display of testosterone be successful or suicidal?
Decisions of this nature have worked for him at America, and he is surely convinced they will work again against New Zealand.