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Mexico vs. Costa Rica, the bizarro qualifier

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                                                                      Photo by ISIphotos.com

BY DYLAN BUTLER

Estadio Azteca has been a fortress for the Mexican National Team, but El Tricolor is the side heading into Saturday's World Cup qualifier desperate for a win, while visiting Costa Rica has scored 22 goals in seven straight wins and is confident it can pull off another upset in Mexico City. No doubt manager Rodrigo Kenton will be showing the squad a DVD of the Ticos monumental 2-1 win there on June 17, 2001.

Is this the bizarro qualifier? Mexico heads home winless in four straight qualifiers and will be without captain Rafael Marquez, who is serving a two-game ban following a red card against the U.S. in a 2-0 loss at Crew Stadium last month in the first game of the final Hexagonal stage.

While a 5-1 win against Bolivia two weeks ago provided a brief respite, or some would even say a stay of execution for manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, it seems Mexico's problems go even deeper than a string of bad results.

In an interview with FIFA.com, Marquez insists he is not to blame for Mexico's current form and instead points a finger elsewhere.

"Mexico football has a deep-rooted problem and that's the cause of the bad patch we've been going through," Marquez said. "Our football is stagnating. Sometimes I feel we're being left to fend for ourselves."

Not exactly the motivation Mexico was looking for from its captain leading up to a critical World Cup qualifier is it?

Kenton surely loves it. The more drama, the better. His squad, meanwhile, is coming off an impressive 2-0 home win against Honduras and it shares the top spot in the group with the U.S. The feeling in the Ticos camp is far different than the spanish version of "Dream Team" that has broken out in Mexico.

"The players have gotten into a rhythm and are playing good and, as a result, the fans and the media have come around and are right behind us," Kenton said. "We want to keep that going. We're looking for wins and that's that."

What do you make of the melodrama in Mexico? Can Costa Rica repeat the magic of 2001 and come away with three points in Mexico City? Let us know what you think.

Comments

  1. For all you wanting Costa Rica to win I hope it doesnt dissapoint you to much when they lose 3-0 tomorrow with goals by Vuoso(2) and Arellano. As far as whoever made the comment about the narco violence in the northern states, TRUE, but that is just rival gangs fighting for territory. Most of the political involvement and many killings are based in Mexico City and the states stretching all the way to Jalisco. I agree Mexico has a lot of work to do in their game but I believe they are well on their way to improvement and they will qualify in the top two.

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  2. When Mexico is down, everyone comes out and criticizes. It’s a sign of respect.

    People forget to mention that Mexico hasn’t had its full squad since qualifying began, injuries have played a huge part in the dip in form for the Mexicans although that’s not really an excuse.

    Again, analyzing the situation from a different perspective, when was the last time Costa Rica beat Mexico?

    2001.

    That stat alone should hold more weight that the recent string of criticism aimed at El Tri.

    It goes without saying that the US and Bob Bradley have managed to handle the transition (from older vets to younger, inexperienced players) much better than Mexico with its constant coaching changes and drama in the media.

    Lastly, I read some rather arrogant remarks by Beasley and Bocanegra today. While in context, the US is the best team in CONCACAF, they’re far from being the best team from CONCACAF.

    I expect both the US and Mexico to win both their upcoming games.

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  3. If costa rica wins sven better leave azteca in a helicopter, because he won’t make it to the car. This is sooo crucial its ridiculous if and its a big if but IF mexico dosen’t qualify how big do you think the riot will be?

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  4. @ Homey Boehme

    Thanks for the background. I’ve spent lots of time in Colima, Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, as well as a few more states in Mexico. Quite familiar with the situation there from first hand viewing. Heavy (stuff) to have to deal with day in and day out. Full respect to los Mexicanos who live amongst the bloodbath while still exuding a positive being. The people and country are truly special. Like nowhere else I’ve experienced.

    As a cultural response, I know there’s the explosion of the Santa Muerte culture over the last few years. From a fĂștbol standpoint, I can’t imagine there are many players who aren’t affected in some way(s). Is it enough to say it’s effected the overall quality of El Tri? I don’t know. Probably doesn’t help much having things like this on your mind instead of focusing on your career.

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  5. I don’t know about the drug war as the problem. Columbia won the 2001 Copa America after all at the height of their country’s drug problems. Besides most of Mexico’s top players play for big clubs in Mexico City, Guadalajara, or Toluca which are very far from the places in Northern Mexico that are the hot spots for narco violence.

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  6. You know, call me crazy, but I would WATCH the Mexican version of “Dream Team.” Better looking women, lots of gag effects, and impromptu songs about toothpaste.

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  7. @green – http://projects.latimes.com/mexico-drug-war/#/its-a-war

    Honestly, I find it hard to believe that members of the Mexican soccer federation, or players for the Mexico national team are somehow untouched and immune from the events happening all across the country. As the situation has intensified and gotten worse, the performances of the Mexican national team have also gotten worse. I know correlation does not equal causation, but I can’t help but think there is a connection on some level.

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  8. Maybe Rafa looks better w/Barca because Barca’s better than the Mexican national team? That’s not a huge knock against the Mexican national team, Barca’s better than just about every national team.

    I think what Rafa says is correct, essentially. There is something stagnant about their team and play. I think a foreign coach was a good move for them, they just picked the wrong one.

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  9. Good stuff Ives,

    Extrapolating a bit.. when is the USA game date and venue in Mexico gonna be set in stone? The last I looked It has yet to be.

    I just hope they don’t move the game to Juarez

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  10. If Mexico’s games against the US are any indication, Marquez is right that there’s an underlying problem with Mexican soccer, but he’s wrong to deny responsibility, for he’s as culpable as anyone else. The problem we’ve seen over and again is lack of discipline. Though the Mexicans have tremendous individual players, they inevitably lose their shape on defense and in the midfield and, equally inevitably, wind up making a host of stupid, undisciplined and, in many cases, vicious fouls that take them out of the game.

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  11. “. . . the human part of me is extremely sad at the cause (namely the drug war)”.

    ————————-

    Care to elaborate?

    Not taking a shot at you here, just interested in your opinion of the connection between the Mexico NT and the drug war.

    Rafa point fingers, never. :O

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  12. we will beat Ticos … now we have fresh players like Omar Arellano , Leobardo Lopez , Oscar Kevin Rojas, Matias Vuoso ….. I think this guys will play better than Dos Santos , Maruqez , Salcido & Carlos Ochoa …. hope Sanches wont be part of the roaster to play !! pleaseeeeee!! .. anyway, at least 1-0 Mex will win !! hope USNT lose against EL Salvador , not because you beat us in Columbus , because the coach of ELSNT is a Mexican guy !!!

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  13. Has anyone done the math to figure out how many points we will need minimum to qualify for the WC?

    Let’s say we take 6 points next week and additional 3 in June, do we really need to win in Mexico City, or will a point do?

    We are in the points game now, not the win or lose game. We qualified over Labor Day weekend last time around and that was with a loss in Mexico City. And, I believe we finished on top of the table.

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  14. Every Chicago Bulls fan knows who Mexico is. Mexico is the Detroit Pistons to USA’s Bulls.

    This is the year where Marquez (Bill Laimbeer), Sanchez (Isiah Thomas) and the rest of Mexico walk off the turf at Azteca without acknowledging that the USA just knocked them off on their home turf.

    I would do anything for that USA/Mexico match at Azteca be do-or-die for El Tri.

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  15. As much as the USMNT fan in me is happy that the Mexico national team is not performing well on the field, the human part of me is extremely sad at the cause (namely the drug war).

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  16. This is a random thought…There is no way Mexico will fail to qualify for the World Cup. That said, I’m rooting for them to get out of this funk. We need them to look good in South Africa next year to rep our region.

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  17. Interesting Marquez comment… There does seem to be an underlying problem there (confidence and accountability certainly being a large part of it) and he’s the poster boy. In Europe, he’s a confident and largely classy player – someone I truly enjoy watching. Once he dons the Mexico jersey, at least against the US, the aforementioned class and confidence are gone and he invariably freaks out on one level or another and hurts his team. And I’m not sure this is something that a manager – any manager – is going to solve. Maybe it’s as simple as them getting a big win on US soil and seeing the confidence return, but I don’t think so.

    I think they need someone like Trevor Mowab to completely re-engineer the psyche of the national team and then hope it trickles down through the entire federation.

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  18. USMT needs to start building itself to beat the other top countries in the world,not just Mexico. Seems like they are just concerned with beating Mexico and thats good enough. Several other teams are built just to beat that one rivalry team and are not equipped to beat the best. Hopefully the USMT is a lot deeper then that going into this world cup.

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  19. Mexico has been pointing fingers for years. Their mantra is “the better team lost.” Go ahead, keep telling yourselves that and you will keep getting spanked by the rest of CONCACAF.

    If they would just look in the mirror and take responsibility for their crappy play of late, that would probably be a huge help and a good first step on the road back to glory. Well, CONCACAF glory anyway.

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  20. Until the Bolivia game I thought Mexico would go down (lack of discipline) with their other teams and not qualify. However it looks like Sven has finally gotten them playing football again. Two tough games, Mexico needs at least 3 maybe 4 points to take the pressure off.

    El Tri 3-1 at Azteca.

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