Top Stories

Tata Martino leaves role as Mexico head coach


The Mexican national team suffered 2022 FIFA World Cup elimination on Wednesday and will now begin its search for a new head coach following Tata Martino’s departure from his role.

Martino confirmed in his postmatch press conference that he would be leaving his position following a 2-1 Group C victory over Saudi Arabia. Despite picking up three points against Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Poland advanced over El Tri following Saudi Arabia’s 93rd minute goal which boosted Poland into second place on goal difference.

Mexico had reached the Round of 16 in its last seven World Cup appearances, but was eliminated in the group stage for the first time since 1978.

“I am the first responsible for this terrible disappointment and frustration that we have,” Martino said. “As the person in charge, it causes a lot of sadness, I fully assume responsibility for this great failure.

“My contract ended as soon as the referee blew the final whistle and there is nothing more to be done,” he added. “It was the game we played the best, we created the most goal opportunities. And we could have scored the number of goals so as not to depend on the other game, but we failed.”

Mexico earned a goal-less draw with Poland before falling to Argentina 2-0 thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernandez. A multi-goal victory was needed over Saudi Arabia for El Tri to leapfrog Poland into second place, but Salem Al-Dawsari killed off El Tri’s advancement chances in stoppage time.

Martino totaled 42 victories in his 66 matches in charge of El Tri, winning the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup Final over the U.S. men’s national team. However, Mexico finished second behind Canada in World Cup Qualifying and will now join the Canadians in an early exit from Qatar.


  1. Mexico’s disappointment was the result of not doing well enough against either Poland or Saudi Arabia. The coach certainly bears some responsibility for that. The failure to replace the aging stars with younger talent was likely the root cause. I don’t follow Mexican soccer closely enough to know if younger players were tried and found wanting, like in the 2018 cycle for the USA. But coaches take the blame for the roster they chose, fairly or not. For example, Klinsmann tried to find replacements for Bradley and Altidore, but failed and not for lack of trying. The would be replacements would have been in the age groups that failed to qualify from CONCACAF for the Olympics, and multiple U20 WC s. It is likely they simply did not exist. Maybe Tata had a similar problem (but Mexican youth teams have done better than the USA, barring the most recent class)

  2. The problem is Mexicos next generation player pool is not that good. Hence why they are ramping up their pursuit of any American who has Mexican roots at youth level and potential senior level players. You bet your bottom dollar Mexico will be pursuing: Mendez, Vasquez, Ledezma, Cade Cowell among others hard during the next few months and years going towards 2026.

    • at which point my concern is you have a coach who likes a stable roster — which by definition you haven’t broken yet — and a low key “try us both” approach to recruitment. but then I doubt arena at UVa, bradley at princeton, or sampson in california would have accomplished what they did if it was like, sure, go visit UNC and Duke next, tell me what you think. in fact historically we would have viewed indecision — particularly openly admitted to the press — as a lack of fire in the belly to be involved in our project. but then i think this coach thought we were going to play some keepaway 433 and soft defense and somehow advance in a world cup, so maybe he underestimated the necessary fight. but then he played like 2 world cup games as an injury sub.

      by the way that arena and GB do things — i think their natural preference is a 25-30 year old veteran player with a stable career situation — a chunk of this team will age out after this tournament, johnson, ream, long, yedlin, morris, roldan, acosta. to me the smart move would be pasture them and create plenty of space for prospects and dual nationals to see opportunity. you can always circle back to older players mid cycle if the developmentals are a dry hole. but that would help recruitment. it would also avoid klinsi’s 2018 cycle error of sticking with the old farts right into 2015, where he bet on older 2014 players who ended up dropped for age later on, and never identified his next cycle team.

      let’s be real, mexico has a 40 year old (!) and 9 additional players O-30. whoever gets that job will already start with a clean slate, new job, new cycle, but also with 1/3 to 1/2 of a team to fill. if you soft-sell it and they can usher them right in the team — or even offer the appearance of that — that’s uphill.

  3. Tata was unable to either identify or incorporate the next generation for El Tri only 7 of the 26 players on the roster will be under 30, 4 years from now. Only 4 on the roster were 24 or younger those guys combined for 77 minutes in Qatar. Their next manager is going to have to turn this roster quickly to compete on home soil in 2026.

    • JR,

      “Their next manager is going to have to turn this roster quickly to compete on home soil in 2026.”

      What makes you think they have the resources (players) to do that?

      Tata is the face of this failure but the whole thing has been going downhill long before he got there. This has been the worst El Tri I’ve seen since at least 2013 and now I think I may be understating it.

      Just one example, since at least 2015 young Mexican players barely play in Europe anymore because MX offer them a lot of money to stay home. This also means the young Mexican players are overpriced. The Europeans see that and move on. Young Mexican players then spend some of their best developmental years deliquescing in Mexico.

      We have 10 starters who play in Europe. It’s where the toughest competition, the best players and the best coaches are. Like JK said, if you want to get better get yourself to the highest level of competition you can manage. That’s Europe like it or not. Look at Antetokounmpo and Doncic. The best basketball players from around the world come to America to play with the best in the NBA. That’s how you become the best in your sport.

      MLS are much better about American kids, MLS have reasonable prices for their young commodities but have the sell-on clause.

      Brenden, for example, sold for a lot more to Leeds than Salzburg paid for him from Philly. Everybody, notably the USMNT, wins.

      This doesn’t happen so much with young Mexican players.

      Tata did a bad job but bringing in some new guy isn’t going to fix the deeper problems.

      Without drastic action, and I don’t know what that would be, Mexico will be even more inferior to the USMNT by 2026, even if they win more than their share of the duals battles. Which is unlikely because this World Cup is only going to make the USMNT even more popular.

      I don’t mind the USMNT becoming even more dominant in CONCACAF than they already are, per se.

      But a lack of serious competition is a bad idea for a national team. And, without a WC qualifying campaign that lack of competition is going to be even worse.

      • Just to add to your excellent comments, not only are our good young players in top European leagues, many are now playing in Champions League, another thing that Klinsmann promoted. Some argue that the level of competition is higher in the CL than in the World Cup. Don’t know if that’s true, but if you are on a team playing against Barcelona in a stadium with 90,000 screaming fans, you get exposed to a lot of pressure. Thus, saying the US p-layers are inexperienced, as many pundits have said, is true only as regards to the World Cup. But just about every US starter in the Iran game has played against very difficult teams in the best leagues.

      • First thing, deliquescing is such a fantastic word. Bravo sir!

        Second, Tata didn’t have a full cupboard to work with. Liga MX is chock full of older domestic and foreign players. Young players do not get lots of minutes to develop. They also are not being sold on to Europe, rarely to MLS (Antuna) and overpriced to sit at home.

        I see the Tata cycle much like the Klinsman cycle. An underperforming generation (Berk Sher, Sean Johnson, etc.) failed to prove themselves at the Olympic level and other tournament failures meant ou hang in to older (proven) players longer than you should because of the lack of development in the younger crop.

        This isn’t so much of a lack of identifying/developing players as it is … where the heck are they? Diego Lainez might be one and J.J. Macias might be another BUT thy both crapped the bed when given chance after chance. So honestly, who else was left to call?

    • people make fun of me wanting younger players but i think you do better betting on donovan’s first world cup than reyna’s last one, so to speak. tata had a fairly old team and made several bad bets on “claudio reyna’s last world cup” type choices. he had other choices. mexico has won some dual national fights. mexico is usually a top 4 team getting out of bed. they will have to shed about 40% of the roster minimum for age. they will have plenty of room to fill. they usually have plenty of quality candidates just the same. i thought tata did a good job to get them 2nd in quali ahead of us, but their tournament pivoted on the poland draw. they will be fine.

      the one caveat i have is unlike the very very very young US, they have an additional 4 guys age 26-27 who will be 30+ next time. so the age problem will replicate itself, though to a lesser extent. but then a huge chunk of the current US roster in 2030 and beyond will go off a massive age cliff all at the same time. will we be any better at farming young players to break that up. will we extract what we hope in 2026 when they are peak age.

  4. Tata’s a really good coach, but I question how good a fit he was for Mexico.

    Curious to see where he winds up. There will be a whole lot of MLS teams interested.

    • Not sure how many can afford him, also he seems to like new challenges I’m not sure returning to MLS will peak his interest.

    • i thought houston was briefly interested but they wanted someone to guide their offseason choices and didn’t want to wait. since he seemed interested just the same, i doubt his salary demands are horrific, and i think a GM stepping back from his mexico work will see an overachieving old fart team qualifying second then finishing mid-group in qatar going out on a tiebreaker. they probably should finish ahead of poland but they didn’t embarrass themselves. herdman is the one where you would have to ask what the heck happened. morocco wins your group, and you can’t get any results over ageing european opponents or them to compete?

      i think a sharp eyed commentator might question whether tata should have proceeded with so old a team but my bet is your average GM sees a successful coach who prodded a very very old mexico team to the edge of making it. that probably reads positive even if the coach’s selection decisions created his old fart bind.

      • They said on Futbol America’s Tata was the 6th highest paid coach at the WC. I don’t think your Dynamo could have afforded him 2.9 million Euros according to Financial Football. Arthur Blank had deep pockets in Atlanta not sure many other owners would spend it. All Tat ever said about his ATL salary was it was less than his 5 million at Barca. It was thought Tab was getting around 500,000.

Leave a Comment