Tom Marshall: Five reasons recent weeks have been a PR nightmare for Mexican soccer

The CONCACAF region's historic power has suffered a reputation hit thanks to a long list of reasons.
The last few weeks have been an unequivocal disaster for Mexican football and its standing in both the world game and CONCACAF.

The one saving grace is that thanks to a World Cup qualifying system in CONCACAF that many would agree is kind, Mexico is still more likely than not to get past New Zealand and participate in Brazil next summer.

But that can't hide how much of a blow 2013 has been to the pride of a national team setup that was poised to continue its improvement and dominate CONCACAF qualifying. What accentuates the decline is that it comes just 15 months after that sunny afternoon in London when Mexico accomplished arguably its greatest achievement on the global stage by winning Olympic gold.

Coaching changes

The obvious one. The Mexican federation ousted Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre and in came Luis Fernando Tena for the game against the United States on Sept. 10. Following the defeat, Victor Manuel Vucetich was announced as the new manager and, with a win and a loss, he was gone too. Now comes America's Miguel Herrera.

To put that in perspective, we've seen four of the best, most successful coaches Mexico has to offer pass through the national team in the past six weeks. The United States has had four coaches in the past 18 years.

It makes the structure of the Mexican game when it comes to the national team seem confused at best. Outsiders are left scratching their heads.

America loses to Alajuelense

The so-called savior of El Tri is a base of players belonging to Club America and its coach Herrera. But things didn't exactly go to plan in Herrera's final match in charge of Las Aguilas in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday.

America was the favorite to win the whole tournament, but lost 1-0 to Costa Rica's Alajuelense and crashed out, becoming only the second Mexican team to fail to pass through the group stage.

There were episodes of ill discipline from America's players when chasing the game and it all didn't go well as a farewell inside the Estadio Azteca, the same stadium where Herrera will be expected to get a win against New Zealand on Nov. 13.

In terms of CONCACAF, it was another huge blow to Mexican pride; America sits on top of the Liga MX, is reigning champion and played a full first team Tuesday.

Liga MX credibility

While national team players having plenty of time together training before the New Zealand games is obviously positive, the knock-on effect is a lack of credibility for the Liga MX.

Twenty domestic-based Mexicans will miss this weekend's action, as well as the potentially crucial last round of games due to national team duty.

Leon is both pushing for a playoff place and a berth in next year's Copa Libertadores, yet will play high-flyer Toluca on Saturday without four important players.

Portugal and France are both confronting equally important games next month, but it would be inconceivable that a national coach could take such liberties as happens in Mexico.

Without wanting to over-exaggerate, it is the same strain of off-the-cuff decision-making that leads to Mexican soccer's rulers apparently being fine with a relegated Liga MX team simply buying up another first division team.

Who is running what?

Jorge Vergara appearing at the federation's press conference to announce Herrera as coach was perplexing. The Chivas owner has a somewhat less than sparkling record of hiring and firing managers at his own club.

But despite the supposed split between the Liga MX and the federation in June 2012, the 18 Liga MX clubs owners still have a say in what is going on at the national team.

Who actually makes the decisions is a complicated matter, with the owners, the federation and television companies all wielding a degree of influence.

Near-disaster on the pitch has highlighted that it may not be the ideal way to run a national team, to put it mildly.

Hugo Sanchez on the attack

The article Sanchez penned in El Universal on the state of the Mexican game Thursday was a succinct and rational attack on Mexico's soccer establishment.

"It has to change, whether Mexico qualifies or doesn't qualify," reflected Sanchez. "There is no other remedy than changing the way Mexican football is being run."

Outside of the country, Sanchez is still Mexico's flag-bearer when it comes to soccer and when he speaks on such issues, people tend to listen.

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