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Kicking Off the 2010 World Cup With “El Tri”

by planetnomad on June 10, 2010

Debating what the topic of my first post should be and after harnessing some scattered thoughts, I have come up with what I think is a very apropos topic to “discover” and help “kick off” this site.  What is it you may ask?  Mexican Soccer! What else?

Though I admit I have not been a huge fan of the sport either as a player or a spectator, my interest and passion has been growing over the years.  To me, and probably a lot of us growing up in the States, soccer was far removed from our more traditional pastimes of baseball and football.  It was something we played as an impromptu game during a very short recess period in grade school.  It certainly was not something we participated in as an “organized” sport or watched on TV.

More recently however, I have taken a sharper interest and maintained a passion for digging deeper into the sport.  A lot of this has been driven from being around many friends from Mexico and hearing their lively debates, to put it mildly, about which team is more dominant, “Las Chivas” from Guadalajara or “Los Diablos Rojas” from Toluca.  In the end, there’s never a definite consensus among them, but eventually they all come together as Team Mexico makes it final selection for the World Cup and chooses it players from all stripes within the country.

From this angle, I take a brief peek into Mexican soccer’s humble start, while highlighting some of its legendary great players, its past coaches and the path to the 2010 World Cup.

ORIGINS

Known as ‘El Tri” by most Mexicans because of the tri-colored uniforms representative of the national flag, Mexican soccer had an early start with a tough going.  Initially, it assembled its first national team in 1927 and would go on to play its first World Cup in 1930 in Montevideo, Uruguay.  Playing in a group fielding France, Chile and Argentina, the outcome was not a good one as Mexico never recorded a single victory in that entire stretch.

Fast forward several decades and five world cups later and Mexico would enjoy its first victory against Czechoslovakia in 1962.  Now, with an increased vigor and a growing national pride, more investment in the sport led to FIFA’s recognition of Mexico as a viable host country and awarded it the 1970 and 1986 World Cups.  In both instances, Mexico achieved its best outings by reaching the quarterfinals.  Since then, fans of El Tri have not had much to cheer about.  In the most recent World Cup of 2006,  Mexico was eliminated in the second round after losing to rival Argentina in extra time.

GREAT PLAYERS OF THE PAST

Though Mexico can only claim a couple of quarterfinal finishes in all its World Cup appearances, it’s had its share of star players over the decades.  Here are just a few regarded to be legendary “TRI” players of the past and present.

Antonio Carbajal (Goalkeeper) Played in five WC’s (1950, 1954, 1958, 1962 & 1966) and was given the nickname ‘El Cinco Copas” for his five appearances.

Hugo Sánchez (Forward) Considered by many to be Mexico’s greatest player ever, Sanchez played in three WC’s ( 1978, 1986 & 1994) and also spent time abroad playing for Spanish teams Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano in the 80’s and 90’s.

Luis Garcia (Forward) Participated in two WC’s in 1994 and 1998.

Luis Hernández (Forward) Hailing from Veracruz, Hernández was part of the national team during the 1998 and 2002 WC’s

Cuauhtémoc Blanco (Forward) Currently on the roster, Cuauhtémoc, a veteran player, has participated in two previous WC’s in 1998 and 2002.  He is considered to be one of the TRI’s top scorers.

THE COACHES

Javier Aguirre:  2009-Present

Sven-Göran Eriksson: 2008-2009

Jose de Jesus Ramirez:  2008

Hugo Sánchez:  2007-2008

Ricardo La Volpe:  2003-2006

Javier Aguirre:  2001-2002

Enrique Meza:  2000-2001

Manuel Lapuente:  1997-2000

CURRENT PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR

Cuauhtémoc Blanco (Forward) Member of Veracruz, Mexico team

Rafael Márquez (Defender) Known as “Rafa”, plays for Barcelona

Guillermo Ochoa (Goalkeeper) Nicknamed “Memo”, plays for America

Javier Hernández (Forward) Known as “Chicharito” plays for Guadalajara

Gerardo Torrado (Midfielder) plays for Cruz Azul in Mexico

HOW THEY GOT HERE

CONCACAF QUALIFYING FOR 2010 WORLD CUP

For 2009

Feb 11:  US 2- Mexico 0

Mar 28:  Mexico 2- Costa Rica 0

April 1:  Honduras 3- Mexico 1

June 6: El Salvador 2- Mexico 1

June 10:  Mexico 2- Trinidad Tobago 1

Aug 12:  Mexico 2- US 1

Sep 5:  Costa Rica 0- Mexico 3

Sep 9:  Mexico 1- Honduras 0

Oct 10:  Mexico 4- El Salvador 1

Oct 14:  Trinidad Tobago 2- Mexico 2

In the end, Mexico qualified for the World Cup by ending up with a total of 19pts. It was one short of the US total and three better than Honduras’ 16 points.

So, there it is!  For a country entering its 14th World Cup and currently ranked at 17th in the FIFA world rankings, Mexico is a country vying for world respect and hoping for much more than successful quarterfinal finishes.  The hope for many is that “El Tri” can finally overcome those early round mishaps and move on to finishing on a grander stage.  Whatever the outcome, this World Cup is sure to be one of the most anticipated and popular ones to date!  Enjoy everyone!


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie Broadbent June 10, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Mark – Love, love, love your first post! Awesome topic and fantastic, clear, precise writing. Yay!

Jeremy B June 11, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Congrats on the website/blog and good first post! Yes indeed it was very timely! My thoughts on this:

Like you, I never cared one bit about soccer growing up and never played it. However, as I traveled around Europe, my passion has grown and it is now my second favorite sport in the world behind college football. It’s really different than what we Americans are used to but after spending a lot of time watching, I greatly appreciate the skill and understand why it is called the beautiful game.

As for Mexico, this has to be a disappointing start for the WC today as they had a lot of chances in the first half and should have had 3 or 4 goals. They came back to tie but then almost lost it late. Blowing a lot of scoring chances was similar to what they were doing in the friendlies before the World Cup. And today, it came back to haunt them! Give South Africa credit – what a proud moment for them! However, Mexico had their chances and should be disappointed with the result. No harm done though as France and Uruguay tied as well.

As for Mexico, I was also keep an eye on Carlos Vela and Giovanni dos Santos. I think those are two key players for Mexico. Both are young but I think much of the success or failure in this World Cup will depend on them.

planetnomad June 12, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Thanks for the congrats and kind comments Jeremy! I much appreciate it, as I’ve been a fan of your work and follow it closely. About Mexico’s performance, yes, I agree that they had their chances to secure a better outcome for themselves, but didn’t execute. Oh well, this might make them scrutinize their play a little closer and come back and shine against Uruguay and France. I’m just excited to try to catch as much of this World Cup as I can. Sometimes, it’s just not possible to catch a live game since they will be played at really odd hours for us. Thanks again!

planetnomad June 12, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Thanks so much Julie for your praise! I have been really excited to finally launch this site and hope to really engage people with it, especially “Mexico enthusiasts” such as ourselves. Muchas Gracias Amiga!!

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