ESPN FC: Mexico must thank the U.S.
While most of the Mexican media bashed El Tri endlessly for its 2-1 loss to Costa Rica Tuesday, striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and coach Victor Manuel Vucetich remained optimistic about international playoff qualifying after the boost into CONCACAF 2014 World Cup qualifying fourth place by a United States victory over Panama.
The U.S. team rallied with two late goals to beat Panama, 3-2, and shut the Panamanians out of that fourth CONCACAF spot while opening the door for El Tri. Mexico will take on New Zealand on Nov. 14 and Nov. 19 in the international playoff.
"If you want to see the playoff in the negative, that is one way to look at it but God has given us another chance and that is the way I see it," Manchester United striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez told ESPN Deportes' John Sutcliffe post-match.
Vucetich, Mexico's third coach in three months, had led his team to a victory over Panama on Friday at Estadio Azteca, but his team could not squeeze out the win over Costa Rica. He said that there was no reason to send a message of thanks to the United States for having gifted Mexico its qualification for the playoffs by beating Panama, as they were just doing their job.
"My mission with the national team was for us to qualify. We beat Panama and that was the critical point and the combination of results turned out in such a way that we reached our objective," Vucetich said post-match. "As professionals we should play all of our games at our best level of play. If we knew we were going to qualify we would not have done so. We have to praise ethical and professional behavior, in this case by the United States.”
The U.S. team may have seen it differently, however, sending out various messages on Twitter, including the implication that Mexico still has far to go to qualify.
Mexico spared through no real effort of their own. Now a chance to snag some frequent flier miles before the holidays with a trip to NZL!— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) October 16, 2013
Vucetich said the break ahead will allow him to improve El Tri's organization. He said that within two weeks, he will start a new set of week-to-week training sessions.
"We worked for six or seven days with this group, we already had the chance to assess them, and now we are going to have a similar amount of time to assess the others, those who play abroad and in Mexico," he said. "We're going to beat New Zealand, we have a group of very good players with which to do so."
New Zealand and Trinidad-Tobago played to scoreless draw in a friendly on Tuesday.
Information from ESPN Deportes reporter Rafael Ramos was used in this story.