México: The World Cup’s Broken Record

Once again, México fails to advance to the quarterfinals in a World Cup held outside of its borders.  Like in Germany 2006, Argentina booted them out of South Africa 2010 and depriving my homeland of participating in that most elusive of contests for them, a fifth World Cup match.  In fact, here’s what I posted after that match back in ’06,

Another World Cup away from Mexican soil, another early exit in the 2nd round by the Mexican team.  This time it was at the hands of the Argentines, who should have won at the end of regulation if it hadn’t been for that bad call on Messi’s offside.

Go in peace, Mexico, and hold your heads high, you went toe-to-toe with one of this Cup’s favorites.  To my countrymen’s credit, they had their best game yesterday, if only they had played at this level during the first round, they might have won their group.

I will say this, the officiating by the Swiss ref was atrocious.  He gave el Kaiser an unmerited yellow card and let the Args get away with murder without giving them cards.  Most notable was the non-call on the dude who rolled over Zinha, and not giving the automatic red on the Arg who took out Kikin as he had a clear path to goal (the whole last man rule).

My consolation in all this is that if El Tri would have gone on and faced Germany, they would have gotten creamed.  After all, the winner of the ARG-MEX game is fodder for the host team.

LaVolpe’s decisions regarding personnel were real head scratchers.  Franco didn’t even play yesterday, he’s a much better playmaker than Borghetti (who can’t create).  Guardado had the game of his life, too bad he didn’t see action during the first round.  If LaVolpe gets the ax, it will probably be because of his personnel decisions.

To my Che friends, congrats on a solid win, but ze Germans will steam roll ‘el albiceleste.’

Germany 4 Argentina 0 (yeah I’m bitter…)

Let’s see, some similarities to today’s affair:

  • No quarterfinals for Mexico once again.
  • The refereeing today was atrocious.  Assistant ref Stefano Ayroldi (below getting an earful, Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) gave Argentina their first goal when he didn’t notice that Carlos Tevez was offside by at least the lenght of 2 gaucho knives.


Guys, you want someone to blame? Go talk to your coach…

  • Different coach this time (Javier Aguirre) but his decisions were equally head-scratching.  Starting the last man picked for the World Cup roster, Adolfo “El Bofo” Bautista, in the biggest match of this tournament is inexplicable.  Back then Guillermo Franco was the better choice over an aging Jared Borghetti.  Today, Pablo Barrera, who gave the Argentinians fits, should have gotten the nod over El Bofo instead of coming in as a sub
  • Had México triumphed today, the elation would have been short-lived since a sickeningly dangerous German squad awaits in the quarterfinals.  A German squad that taught England a graduate course in counterattacking.  As Tom Clancy wrote in Red Storm Rising that no one presses the counterattack “better than the Krauts””.
  • Aguirre’s personnel decisions will cost him his job as coach of the Mexican National Team

Interesting how history repeats itself, how Aguirre didn’t learn from LaVolpe’s mistakes or even his own mistakes back in the 2002 World Cup.

The main difference between ’06 and what happened today is that in ’06, El Tri actually had a shot to beat Argentina.  Today?  Not so much.  Which is why this loss didn’t shake me to the core as much as Team USA’s loss did yesterday.  Team USA had a real shot to do something special but came up short.

Another reason why this loss wasn’t as crushing is what I wrote here,

Thus, I shall enjoy watching El Tri get out of the first round only to get eliminated by giving a world-power all they can handle before succumbing to historical inevitability.

True, this time around they didn’t give Argentina all they could handle.  There was never any doubt Argentina was going to win this match and once again play the record that all of us Mexicans get to hear every 4 years:  México exits the World Cup in the Round of 16.

Despite what happened to El Tri in South Africa, I will always support the team that represents the country of my birth. I know it’s a fool’s errand but here’s hoping that in Brazil 2014, we won’t get to hear this same tired record again.

¡Viva Mexico!

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Move Over Lloyd Christmas

In that great cinematic work, Dumb and Dumber, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) asked Mike Starr’s character, “Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?” And he proceeded to serenade him with what, at the time, was the most annoying sound in the world. Here’s the clip:

Well, suffice it to say, that sound plays second fiddle to the drone emanating from those ubiquitous South African “stadium horns”, vuvuzelas. That infernal noise was first heard by a worldwide audience during last year’s Confederations’ Cup. They were annoying then, and they are annoying now at the World Cup.

Opinion varies as to whether these horns are “annoying irritants” or “joyful expressions of African culture”, but at the risk of sounding dismissive of other cultures, they simply are annoying and irritating expressions of joyful African culture.

Whether it’s a South African, German or Mexican (below) providing the wind power, the noise produced is equally irritating. So much so that earplugs have become a hot item in South Africa. One might conclude that the vuvuzela was a clever scheme concocted by ear plug vendors, but I digress…

I took this pic after a México win at Reliant Stadium a couple of years ago, a match which proved to be my first exposure to the glorified funnels. As horrible as the noise is, it can’t take away from the beautiful game, especially at an event like the World Cup.

However, it would be a good if somehow Univision or ESPN found a way to filter out the vuvuzela noise, as the BBC is thinking of doing.

Here are a couple of observations from yesterday and today’s action:

  • The Germans have looked the best out of all the teams that have played so far. So effortless do the Krauts look, so crisp and pinpoint their passes are, are they not? They seem to have mastered the troublesome Jabulani (the official match ball), could it be because most of their squad plays in the Bundesliga, which used the Jabulani as its match ball last season?  Things that make you go hmmm…
  • Speaking of ze Germans…  How ’bout that rousing advertisement for globalization that their squad is?  The German National Team, dubbed Die Mannschaft (insert joke here), boasts a naturalized Brazilian, a son of Turkish immigrants, a guy named Gomez (born in Germany, has a Spanish father), 2 naturalized Poles (seems to be a running gag), another guy whose father is Tunisian.  Ol’ Adolf must be turning over in his grave…
  • What is it with Italy allowing headers from Latin American teams at the World Cup?  In ’02 it was México’s Jared Borghetti and today it was Paraguay’s Antolín Alcaraz who did the honors. Like in ’02 against El Tri Italy tied with Paraguay 1-1.
  • ESPN, I know that you learned from the last World Cup and hired good announcers to man your booth but you are still lagging behind Univision’s varsity, Pablo Ramirez and Jésus “El Profe” Bracamontes.  After Italy equalized today, Ramirez sung in Italian.  That is how you do it ESPN.  When a goal is scored don’t call it like it’s a throw-in, call it “with feelin'” as Jon Bon Jovi crooned.

Finally, on a totally unrelated not, you are very welcome Baylor.

The White Rabbit Will Lead México to An Early Exit

Surely it must mean something that I posted on Team USA’s shocking draw with England before posting on the opening match of the 2010 World Cup, which pitted host South Africa against my beloved Tri.  What it means is that the opening match left a bad taste in my mouth.

Like the US and England, South Africa and México tied 1-1. For South Africa that’s as good as a win and it’s safe to say that for the team representing my native land, that result is as bad as a loss.

Again, if careful and exegetic analysis of the match are your cup of tea, go check out it here.

Before the ball even got rolling there was a problem for México: Óscar “El Conejo” (The rabbit) Pérez starting at keeper for México. What catastrophe has to unfold for Mexican helmsman Javier “El Vasco” (The Basque) Aguirre to leave this guy on the friggin’ bench? I won’t even get into another lousy decision by Vasco: starting Guille Franco as the point man up front. To summarize Franco’s brilliant performance, he whiffed on 3 clear scoring opportunities. Two off-target headers and a feeble shot on goal that Bishop Tutu could have stopped.

It’s worth noting that after South Africa opened the scoring, Desmond started cutting a rug. I’d point out something about the dignity that accompanies age but then I’d come across as the woman (not to mention legalistic Baptists) who despised King David in 2 Samuel.

Like Rudy, Conejo is 5-foot-nothing, unlike Rudy, he is a wee bit more than a “100-nothing”. In the modern era of fútbol (after ’66 when they used that ridiculous volleyball as a match ball), no team has gone deep into the World Cup with a keeper that vertically challenged.

I’d understand if the man still had his ups, but he’s 37!!!!!! Whatever spring he might have had is long gone. I’d also understand if you didn’t have any other options, but riding the pine like some perpetual bridesmaid is Sideshow Bob Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa (right). Vasco, if Allstate is going to make Memo the centerpiece of an entire ad campaign, the least you do is start the man. Forget the fact that he’s 6′, young and in the prime of his career.

Throughout the match, Pérez looked to be way in over his head. He whiffed on a couple of crosses into the box that a taller and/or athletic keeper would have easily snagged. Given that set pieces and the aerial game are 2 of México’s main problems, it’s inexplicable why Aguirre goes with Pérez. I’m not sure that even Memo would have stopped South Africa’s impressive goal, but judging by the replay, Pérez was a few inches from getting at least a glove on it.

Then in what could have been South Africa’s game winner, Pérez defends it by doing a jumping jack [Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images]:

Pérez has no business being on this team, much less being the starting keeper. If Aguirre comes to his senses and starts Ochoa, at least this gives the team a better chance and will eclipse some of the other shortcomings that were in full bloom against South Africa (inability to capitalize, adventures in set pieces etc).

Given Aguirre’s noted stubbornness and pride, I have a feeling he will continue to follow his white rabbit (below, Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) all the way into the hole that is not making it past the group stage.

Run, rabbit run… all the way to the bench please

Today in Houston…

The Mexican National Soccer Team (FIFA ranking: 17), will square off against Angola’s team (FIFA ranking:85) at Reliant Stadium. It’s a friendly match which means that

  • It doesn’t count for anything except extracting my countrymen’s hard earned lawn-mowing money
  • No Barkleyesque elbows will be flung in the direction of Angolan athletes.

Because it is my beloved Tri that is playing, expect to see this in the stands,


[Photo credit: Me. Took it during a México v. Belize match at Reliant Stadium]

The festivities will em, kick off later today.  No news if the wonderful folks at the so-called Minuteman Project will stage a whinefest.

That’s today in H-town, yesterday there was a protest led by none other than “local activist”, one might say “community organizer”, Quanell X.

As one might have guessed the protest had to do with racism, perceived or otherwise. Recently, a Bellaire officer, Jeffrey Cotton was acquitted of aggravated assault on Robbie Tolan, a Bellaire youth. Sgt. Cotton shot Tolan while the latter was in his front yard. By all accounts it was a misunderstanding, since Cotton believed that Tolan had stolen a car (the officer punched in the wrong tag number).

A confrontation ensued with the boy’s mother and the officer believed Tolan was reaching for a weapon and opened fire, wounding the young man. Personally, I believe the situation could have been avoided if Tolan had simply followed orders and waited for the misunderstanding to get cleared up.

Maybe it’s just me but if a cop tells me to do something, I’m going to do it and not put up any resistance. Remember folks, there are more of them than there are of you and they carry radios (not to mention guns). Besides, if you’re free of wrongdoing then that will come out in the wash, why aggravate the situation?

Quanell the Tenth decided to stick his nose in all this because Tolan is black and Cotton is white. At the protest, Mr. Tenth said,

This cop is a criminal, this cop should be in jail. If you shoot one more black man in Bellaire in cold blood, then your damn city will go up in flames.

I find his tone very interesting. Yes, it is possible that Cotton’s demeanor was influenced by the fact that Tolan is a young black man. Young black men and the police don’t seem to get along very well. I don’t find it outside the realm of possibility that the officer might not have been so trigger-happy if Tolan was white.

That said, Quanell the Tenth just made it more difficult for young black men in Bellaire. His passionate and extremely careless threat just paints a very negative image of blacks in the minds of Bellaire residents. In their minds, he’s painting an image (if not reinforcing) of black men as being violent, hot-tempered and not too hesitant to making threats. That’s a disservice to the very people he claims to represent.

To me, it’s very similar to when Muslims get their knickers in a twist when anyone suggests that some professing Muslims have violent tendencies.

As I’ve said before,

If someone says that you have a tendency to get out of control, and you don’t like it, then probably it’d be better if you didn’t get out control with your reaction…

On Cinco de Mayo

Here we are again, May 5th and people throughout these United States will hold “Cinco de Mayo” celebrations. Some will ignorantly believe it is México’s 4th of July or even believe that this date means a great deal to us Mexicans, it doesn’t.

In all fairness, México doesn’t really have a “4th of July”. Yes, its “Independence Day” (September 16) marked the end of Spanish rule but only to be followed by subsequent American seizure of large tracts of land such as Arizona (isn’t it ironic?), California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Texas, as well as a brief French occupation.

On May 5th, 1862 near the city of Puebla, an inferior Mexican force beat a superior French force. It was significant due to the “David-Goliath” aspect of it and because my people were victorious in a battle. The only problem is that the defeat only delayed the inevitable French occupation of my native land and subsequent appointment of a hapless Hapsburg (Maximilian I, pictured below) to the throne of the newly minted Mexican Empire. In other words, México won the Battle of Puebla but lost the war.

(Museum of History, Chapultepec)

For this reason, most of México doesn’t make a big deal of this day. After all, who celebrates a victorious battle in a war which was ultimately lost? Not even my peoples, who look for small victories to revel in especially over hegemonic entities, have the non-sense to do this. It’d be akin to making a national holiday over the Battle of the Alamo. Yes, México won that “battle” but lost the war and Texas.

Emperor Maximilian I eventually was overthrown and to make a statement that foreign governance wouldn’t be tolerated, was sentenced to death by firing squad.

Perhaps as some sort of twisted joke, 139 years later, another Maximiliano, Maxi Rodriguez, would fire a shot (see vid below) that would avenge his namesake’s death at the hands of Mexican authorities, break the heart of the Mexican people and make the name “Maximiliano” reviled once more throughout the land.

“Yes We Can!”

This chant (“Yes We Can!” or “¡Sí Se Puede!”) was introduced to the mainstream in the last Presidential election. Supporters of Barack Obama appropriated it and made it their rallying cry. If people have no problem hijacking Scripture to achieve whatever end, why not some silly phrase to usher in an era of perceived hope and change?

I say appropriated because the phrase did come from somewhere, and no I’m not talking about Bob the Builder (“Can we fix it? Yes we can!”).

The phrase is one of México’s contributions to the world of sports fanaticism. If memory serves me correct, I first heard it during the 1998 World Cup. It was used by the masses to support the national team as they went up against European powers such as the Netherlands (2-2 tie) and Germany (1-2 loss). Here’s an action shot from that match,

So close Luis, yet so far…

It makes sense why the Mexican collective would concoct such a phrase, given my native land’s ya merito (close but no cigar) performances every 4 years. They look great against top-flight competition, give us all hope of a breakthrough and then get barely beaten in elimination games. There was Germany in ’86, Bulgaria in ’94, Germany again in ’98, USA (this one still hurts) in ’02, and Argentina in ’06. I expect this upcoming World Cup to be no different, but I hope I’m wrong.

I guess I could also go on how the phrase reflects the class struggle that has been the fulcrum of México’s troubled history.

Which brings us full circle to the re-emergence of the phrase at recent protests against a law in Arizona which requires peace officers to ask for proof of legal status.

The law only applies in Arizona, for now, but 7,000 people took to the streets here in H-town in protest. They, of course, made copious use of this phrase.

I agree, this law is ridiculous and is probably unconstitutional. If you’re against nationalized health-care because it’s unconstitutional then why aren’t you against this law? But I digress…

Back to the marchers, I just have one thing to ask: Stop using this slogan.

It doesn’t apply here. “Yes We Can”, what? What can you do? Even if this was law here in Texas, what can you do? It’s obvious that Congress isn’t doing anything about immigration reform. It’ll cost too much politically to do so.

Come up with something better and leave this phrase where it belongs, when we root for our beloved Tri come June 11th.

162 Years and Counting…

Ever since General Scott and his few good men made martyrs out of 6 Mexican cadets 162 years ago, Americans have not won anything in México City.

Here’s a lithograph depicting the American victory at Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War.

Battle of Chapultepec

As painful as it is for most Mexicans to remember that tragic loss, it is equally joyous to celebrate , in a lesser realm of course, México’s victory over Team USA in a World Cup qualifying match at Estadio Azteca last Wednesday (I know it’s been a week but this post has been marinating).

Needless to say, I love my adoptive country, these United States of America but when it comes to fútbol, my heart will always be with my beloved Tricolor.

Which is why I thoroughly enjoyed Team USA’s inability to win in México City, those of you who like numbers here is Team USA’s record there: 0 wins, 23 losses, 1 tie.

Before talking about the match I’d like to point out the shameless behavior of some Mexican fans during the contest. Sports Illustrated reporter Grant Wahl was doused with beer and shown double rods by one of my thoughtless and classless paisanos. Mexican nemesis Landon Donovan was doused with various bodily fluids as he was preparing to take a corner kick (below right)

Classless

Queridos compadres,
Vayan al Coloso, pónganse la verde, grítenle la porra de Jalisco al Pato Howard, pero por el amor de Dios no hagan el tipo de cosas que nos hacen ver mal a todos nosotros y que causen que unos escriban este
tipo de idioteces.

Wahl handled the classlessness of some Mexicans with class, the same cannot be said of the writer of the cited link.

On to the match…

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