After Mexico qualified for the World Cup on Friday, becoming the fifth team to book its passage to Russia 2018, many El Tri players took the opportunity to throw their support behind coach Juan Carlos Osorio.
While the coach currently has an undefeated record in World Cup qualification, his unconventional style and early exits in major tournaments have made Osorio a target in the Mexican press and among fans. Mexico is notorious for changing coaches often, but with the national team qualified for the summer showpiece with three games to spare, his position looks secure. That's good news, according to veterans in the locker room.
"There will always be things to analyze. We understand that you in the press don’t love Osorio’s style," midfielder Andres Guardado told reporters. "But ultimately, we’ve been effective, we’ve been solid playing in this World Cup qualification cycle. Sometimes we haven’t played well because we’ve played against tough opponents. We’d like to blow everyone out, but our goal was to qualify for the World Cup, and now we’ve done that."
Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa also came out in support of the coach, noting that he's won over the team despite external criticism.
"I think the coach has done really well," Ochoa said. "I don’t think people give him the credit he deserves. It’s not easy to come to our country and work with so many members of the media who make things difficult, including many of the fans as well. He tries to do his best every day, to learn.
"The group believes in him, trusts him and that’s what’s important. I think today shows what he’s been doing. Everything is a process. No national team is doing well all the time. That’s soccer."
Mexico will face Costa Rica away on Tuesday in the second game of this international window. Center backs Hector Moreno and Jair Pereira are set to travel after missing Friday's game with an injury with Moreno likely to replace Nestor Araujo, who is suspended because of yellow card accumulation.