A new era was started in 2019 for the Mexico national team, as ‘Tata’ Martino took control of the CONCACAF side at the beginning of the year. A respected manager who joined Mexico after an impressive run in Atlanta had a long 2019 with Mexico ahead of him. There were storylines from new players to the upcoming Summer at the 2019 Gold Cup.
After it was all said and done, 2019 turned out to be a successful year for El Tri under ‘Tata’ Martino. There will be even more challenges ahead in 2020, yet, Martino is starting to see some great understanding with the Mexicans he is coaching.
Firing on all cylinders early on
Mexico’s first test was a big one – the infamous Chile rematch. In 2018, Mexico lost to Chile in an exhibition 0-1, but it was during an interim era under ‘Tuca’ Ferretti. The match in March was Mexico’s first real go under a permanent coach since their horrible 0-7 drubbing at the 2016 Copa América.
What transpired was a brilliant 3-1 victory over the South America rivals, and it seemed like Mexico had all it needed to move forward to the Gold Cup. Mexico didn’t lose one game until the Gold Cup started, however, Mexico would not have a large group of top players join the Gold Cup in the Summer. It was looking like Martino’s first challenge was to take on the CONCACAF with a mixture of new and veteran faces.
Meeting their regional rivals in the final
It wouldn’t be a Gold Cup without a Mexico v USA final, right? Well, that is what transpired. It was a beautiful yet windy night in Chicago, and despite some early hiccups, El Tri ended up taking the crown with a goal from Jona dos Santos.
The exciting part was only two months later, Mexico and the USA would meet again in New York. This time, Mexico put on its best display of dominance against its rivals in ages. A 3-0 dismantling had fans feeling optimistic for the future. It also helped that two straight wins over their opponents quieted some noise from an opposing fan base, which boasts a young team poised to dominate CONCACAF.
Mexico’s first slip-up
Unfortunately for Mexico, its momentum after beating the USA didn’t transfer to their match against Argentina. It seemed the team left its enthusiasm in New York because the team who played Argentina was utterly appalling. The 0-4 loss had fans scratching their heads, but ‘Tata’ assured that Mexico would learn from its awful mistakes.
Despite the massive loss, it would be the only one in the new ‘Tata’ era in 2019. Moreover, Mexico did not lose any official matches in 2019. One could say the Argentina game was a needed wake up call to keep the hunger levels high.
2019 grade and a look to 2020
My 2019 grade for El Tri under ‘Tata’ Martino in 2019 is a B+. Of course, Mexico was nearly invincible during the year, but there are some areas I’d like to see improved. The loss against Argentina was a little too sloppy for me to give this year a grade in the “A” range, but it was close.
Mexico has a significant opportunity coming up to expand its youth growth at the 2020 Olympics (given they qualify). A lot of Mexico’s up and coming talents are in the U-23 range, which means the three “overage” additions could set up a talented squad.
Other than that, Mexico will have the semifinals against Costa Rica in the CONCACAF nations league in June 2020. A possible rematch of the Gold Cup final could find us again, as both Mexico and the USA will be favorites to reach the final.
As of now, fans and media are excited about what Martino has done in just his first year. Hopefully, the momentum can bring success on a larger scale in the future.