There’s seldom been a brighter outlook for Mexican soccer than the one that prevails at the close of 2012, in many ways the most successful year in the history of Mexican soccer.
And there’s plenty to look forward to in 2013. But in the meantime, here are a few things for El Tri fans to be thankful for at Christmas:
The Olympic Team
What better gift could El Tri fans have hoped for in 2012 than an Olympic gold medal? The scenes of celebration during and after the win against Brazil, as El Tri rampaged to the title, will remain emblazoned in the minds of a generation of El Tri players and their fans.
It’s fun to recall that Mexico went into the Olympics seeking a medal of any denomination. Those goals quickly changed as the defense stepped up to match the team’s offensive firepower, and it became clear that this U-23 group could play with any team in world, particularly Brazil.
The images of El Tri’s gold medal run will be the most memorable from the year, and are a primary reason for Mexico fans to be thankful this Christmas.
All the youth
It’s not just the U-23 team - 2012 proved a year when Mexico’s notable youth movement continued to develop on the field. Diego Reyes and Hiram Mier went from age-level stars to leaders at their clubs, as the attacking side of the ball keeps looking up.
In the meantime, Mexico’s next generations of U-17s and U-20s have been dominating tournaments around the world the entire year, and look like candidates to improve - to the extent that’s possible - on the youth World Cup performances in 2011.
Carlos Vela and Gio Dos Santos’ new teams
The dynamic duo that led Mexico to the 2005 U-17 World Cup title has finally extracted itself from terrible club situations. Finally at home in Spain, Dos Santos and Vela are once again as productive as ever at the club level.
Expect that to translate into a huge bonus for El Tri as a busy 2013 calendar year approaches.
Chepo de la Torre
Mexican fans should be thankful for El Tri’s coach, who has brought stability, a defined style of play, and a winning attitude to Mexico all at once for the first time in over a decade.
So much of El Tri’s success at the full team level can be attributed to de la Torre, and the changes he has made since coming in. The coach has helped instill the attitude in the team that Mexico shouldn’t lose, ever - an approach that has paid huge dividends in terms of establishing a consistent winner.
The coach even managed the delicate Olympic situation with aplomb, giving Luis Tena all the space and time he needed to make a winner out of the U-23s, and refusing to commandeer any of the credit for the triumph.
An improving domestic league, like a rising tide, lifts all boats. Mexico clearly has that, as the level of competition continues to improve.
Teams like Club Tijuana and Club Leon becoming competitive has been a result not of reduced quality of the regular contenders, but of the generally improving level of play in the Mexican club game.
In the coming years, watch for Liga MX to truly establish itself as one of the top leagues in the world.
What better to end with than the national team itself, which has begun to bring so much contentment and satisfaction to Mexican fans? El Tri is clicking on all cylinders, and stocked with young superstars just setting out in what should prove to be long and successful careers, the uptrend looks to be just starting for El Tri.
What more could Mexican fans ask for Christmas?
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