Fire Osorio! That's likely going to be the common theme among Mexico supporters more now than ever, after El Tri failed to advance to the Gold Cup final.
But are those calls justified? Coach Juan Carlos Osorio rolled out an inexperienced Liga MX-based squad to the Gold Cup, as Mexico decided the focus this summer would be on the Confederations Cup in Russia rather than a watered-down CONCACAF tournament in the United States.
That meant no Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, no Carlos Vela and no Guillermo Ochoa. Not even Giovani dos Santos was called into the lineup for the knockout round, despite El Tri being positioned to play their quarterfinal match just miles away from where the midfielder plays in MLS with the LA Galaxy, and a short flight to Northern California for the final.
No one can argue that Osorio relied on a B team in the Gold Cup, and they still managed to go unbeaten through the first four games before crashing out with a 1-0 loss to Jamaica in the semifinals. It was the same Jamaica team that also held El Tri to a scoreless draw in the group stage, which initially led to Osorio answering questions about his roster decisions.
But Osorio clearly entered the summer with a plan and decided not to take advantage of a tournament rule that allows teams to add and replace six players ahead of the quarterfinals. Rather than naming his biggest stars to his initial roster, Osorio allowed them to rest and prepare for their European seasons. He instead challenged his younger players to get the job done.
"I think this group deserves the opportunity to continue [in the Gold Cup] and experience this tournament and the great responsibility that representing Mexico is," Osorio said during the group stage.
After earning seven points through three group games, Osorio stuck with his word and entered the quarterfinal match against Honduras with the same team he began the tournament with. El Tri only trailed once during their Gold Cup run, and that came in the 88th minute of their heartbreaking loss to the Reggae Boyz, after Kemar Lawrence hit a beautiful free kick past Jose Jesus Corona.
Mexico assistant coach Luis Pompilio Paez, who filled in on the sideline as Osorio watched from above while serving an ongoing six-match suspension, was in no mood to discuss whether the loss to the Reggae Bozy was a success or not.
"I personally don't like the word failure," Paez said. "But everyone is entitled to their opinion."
Osorio will likely keep his job despite frustrated supporters continuing to call for his firing since the day Mexico lost 7-0 to Chile in last year's Copa America. For teams like Jamaica, Gold Cup success is the best they're going to accomplish. But for Osorio, the 2017 Gold Cup was nothing more than a platform to give his younger players a closer look.
"This coaching staff was hired with the mission of taking Mexico to the World Cup," Paez said. "We are very close [to qualifying]. In the Confederations Cup we were minutes from defeating the European champions [Portugal]."
If you want to see Osorio go, failing to advance to the Gold Cup final isn't going to be the final straw -- no matter how much we wanted to see Mexico take on the United States.