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Mexico deserves better than El Tri’s bloodless approach

Mexico deserves better than El Tri’s bloodless approach

The Mexican national team was eliminated from the Copa America on Sunday after a disappointing 0-0 draw against Ecuador.

The result left Mexico in third place in Group B, well behind Venezuela in first place and outside the group’s automatic promotion places.

With no one in the group ranked in the world’s top 20 teams, Mexico’s elimination is an embarrassment to the national program. But the most embarrassing part is how routine and expected this failure felt.

“When you don’t achieve your goals, you’re going to have doubts,” Mexico coach Jaime Lozano said after the game, according to The Athletic , speaking specifically about his future with the team. “But if the players believed until the end, it’s for a reason … but for me it’s clear that we went out and were protagonists.”

Protagonists, certainly — but protagonists in an all-too-familiar tragedy. The Mexican national team has been in steady decline since its glory days in the early 2000s.

While previous El Tri teams dreamed of reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup and thus breaking the curse of the ‘quinto partido’, this team will be lucky if it even qualifies for a World Cup.

Fortunately, Mexico’s appearance for the 2026 event means the country automatically qualifies; Unfortunately, his guaranteed presence could show the world how unprepared Mexico is to compete at the highest level.

The statistics don’t lie. In the 2020s, Mexico had its worst World Cup performance in 20 years, failed to beat the USMNT seven times in a row, and made headlines for homophobic chants from the stands.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Mexican national team used to be known for its depth and strength. But problems with youth development at club level in Liga MX and a lack of support from the Mexican Football Federation have caused the source of energetic players to dry up.

Worse still, Lozano, who took over as interim leader in 2023, appears unwilling or unable to get the most out of his attacking players.

Mexico created enough chances in the Copa America, but failed miserably in converting them. In three games and 270 minutes of play, El Tri 58 shots converted into one measly goal.

“We’ve gotten a lot better defensively,” Lozano said after his team’s elimination, “but now we have to find the balance and work on that patience, that last touch in the attacking third.”

He’s not wrong, but the time to do that job was against Ecuador, when a win would have been enough to send Mexico through to the knockout rounds of the Copa. Instead, Lozano’s men slogged through the game without really looking like they were going to score.

If you tuned in and didn’t know it was a do-or-die game for Mexico, you would never have guessed.

Time is running out for Lozano and Mexico. With Canada on the rise and the USMNT and Costa Rica reliably competitive, making waves in the CONCACAF region has never been harder.

Mexico’s elimination from the Copa group stage must feel like a disgrace, a failure. Otherwise, it will be yet another disgrace in a series of such eliminations that have been taking place since 2020.