(A candid photo from yesterday’s meeting of the FMF)
It came as no surprise when Miguel “Piojo” Herrera was announced as the coach for the national team yesterday. He is all we’ve got for now and as much as some of us would have liked to have a different face, it is somewhat of a relief to know that the owners have trust in at least one of the coaches they have chosen this year. The coaching carrousel had to stop at some point and we could do much worse than Miguel Herrera. Although a contract has yet to be created, reports have come in that the FMF are looking to have Piojo through to the 2018 World Cup. At this time, I’m just content with us sticking with one person. The team has lacked a consistent game plan and identity for so long and I’m more than willing to let a decent coach like Herrera give it a try. It’s as if we entered a sand-castle building competition, kept changing the person in charge of building our sand-castle, and knocked down all of the foundations in their entirety every time we let somebody else give it a try. Just let somebody build a sand-castle! Preferably one with a moat.
One more thing, let’s talk about the World Cup pots (or pools) for just a second. As I’m typing this, the pots have yet to be decided, but by the time you are reading this they will probably be set. These aren’t the groups for the World Cup but the pots that will help decide which teams will be allocated for each group.
Luckily for us, the allotment of the teams in the pots will be somewhat predictable but please forgive me if I’m wrong with my predictions. And by “my predictions” I mean the consensus of multiple sources online, thanks Google! Update! The pots have been selected, and it’s going to be much more confusing than we all thought it would be.
Pot 1: Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay, Switzerland.
Pot 2: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador.
Pot 3: Japan, Iran, Korea Republic, Australia, United States, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras.
Pot 4: Russia, Croatia, Holland, Italy, England, Portugal, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, France.
Due to the fact that FIFA will not allow more than two European teams and one South American team in the same group, there is going to be a temporary “pot x” created. What? What indeed. So what’s going to happen is that before the draw is set-up, FIFA are going to randomly select a European team from pot 4 to go into pot 2. Then the four South American teams from pot 1 will be put into pot x. Now here’s the confusing part (if it hasn’t already been confusing). The random European team placed in pot 2 will apparently be placed in a group with one of the South American teams from pot x. After this is done, all three other pot x members will go back to pot 1, and then the nonchalant FIFA representatives will go through each pot and assign them to a group. I’m not entirely sure how this will exactly pan out but I do really hope for some better explanation before then.
So what does this mean for Mexico? Well nothing too different than what we already assumed. It means that because we aren’t one of the top eight teams in the World, there is a chance we can have Brazil, France, and England in our group…ouch. How about this one: Germany, Ivory Coast, and Holland…blargh. Then again, let’s look at our last three World Cup appearances in 2010, 2006, and 2002.
In 2002, we were also unseeded and then had Italy, Croatia, and Ecuador in our group. We finished first in our group but then lost in the second round to the United States. In 2006, we were lucky enough to be seeded and had Portugal, Angola, and Iran in our group. We finished second and then lost in the second round to Argentina. In 2010 we were unseeded, and had Uruguay, South Africa, and France in our group. We finished in second and then once again lost in the second round to Argentina. What I’m getting at is that no matter what road we are made to take, it will be a difficult one. It probably would have been easier on us if we would have been one of the higher ranked teams, but the job will always be a challenging one.
Keep your fingers crossed. The official draw will take place this Friday.
-Chicharito was only given seventeen minutes of playing time today. The only real highlights was an offsides call and a blocked shot. The striker literally touched the ball a total of eight times, but I guess that’s understandable with the amount of playing time that he has received. Arsenal’s name is now thrown in the mix of teams that have been rumored to sign the striker during the winter transfer. According to rumors (which are always fun because one out of every hundred crazy transfer rumors end up becoming the truth) Arsenal are seeking a deal for Nani and Chicharito for $36,000,000. He wouldn’t start above Giroud, but would be a much better option than Bendtner if it were to happen. Manchester United 2-2 Tottenham.
-You aren’t fooling anyone Andres Guardado, we all saw what happened. The wing-back was lucky enough to not get a PK called on him (or a second yellow) against Osasuna after blocking a cross with his right arm late in the game. As for the rest of the match, Guardado had some beautiful and noteworthy crosses along with a few crucial interceptions in the back. Though, it still appeared to be a lackluster game from him in comparison to the right-side of the field where the attack was brilliant and fluid (right-back Antonio Barragan had two assists and right-winger Sofiane Feghouli had one). I believe that Guardado has slowly picked up his form, yet it needs to be much more drastic if he wants to regain a spot on the national team. Valencia 3-0 Osasuna.
-Although still out for more than likely until next summer, Jona dos Santos seems to be enjoying his time off the field. Well at least according to all of those awesome photos that he has been posting up on his instagram account recently. While his instagram contains mostly photos of him looking fly in his expensive clothing all over the world, mine is primarily made up of my cat, DJ Cuddles. I’m envious. Back to the soccer. Barcelona lost two games in a row last week in what I can only imagine hasn’t happened in over a year. They are now tied in first with Atletico Madrid and only three points above Real Madrid. Barcelona 0-1 Athletic Bilbao.
-Jesus “Tecatito” Corona sat out during FC Twente’s most recent game against Roda JC Kerkrade. The winger has only seen a total seventy-nine minutes of playing time this season, but we need to keep in mind that he plays on one of the top teams in the Eredivisie and that all three starting attackers on his squad are on ridiculous form. The attacking trio of Luc Castaignos, Quincy Promes, and Dusan Tadic have accounted for twenty-two of Twente’s thirty-five goals scored so far this season. I guess we will just have to be patient for Tecatito to get more opportunities to shine. FC Twente 2-1 Roda JC Kerkrade.
-Gio dos Santos made his return to Villarreal after a short break due to an injury earlier last month. The striker came on during the sixty-fifth minute of the game and almost scored a goal late in the game off of a well-placed header but Malaga’s keeper did an excellent job of making a last second save. Javier Aquino was given a start and had his first full game with the Yellow Submarine since September. I was a bit disappointed with Aquino who had very little of a presence in the game. Villarreal 1-1 Malaga.
-Do you know what happened? Carlos Vela and Hector Moreno played against each other, that’s what happened. Moreno had an impressive assist thirty-one minutes into the game after intercepting a cross and sending a long (really long) pass down the field. The Mexican defender had a solid game in the back and helped create multiple attacking plays. I still see no reason as to why Moreno should not be called up to the national squad. Not to be outdone, Vela also bagged an assist for his squad in the sixty-fifth minute. The agile attacker cut back the ball and then sent a beautiful cross to Antoine Griezmann who headed the ball in the back of the net. Espanyol 1-2 Real Sociedad.
-Nery Castillo is back (somewhat)! Castillo returned for the first time in almost two months after suffering a small tear in one of his muscles. Castillo was not able to contribute much during his time and some of that might be due to said amount of time, twenty minutes. Then again, Castillo seemed to have less of a contribution on the attack than Chicharito did for Manchester United. By the way, check out this awesome and lonesome Rayo fan at the game celebrating one of the first goals. Oh, and one more thing. Real Betis’ mascot, Palmerin the palm tree, might be my new favorite soccer mascot. Rayo Vallecano 2-2 Real Betis.
-Week after week, Guillermo Ochoa sets up shop between those posts and endures what is probably the most difficult keeper job in France. Last weekend wasn’t any easier. Take for example, this comedy of errors for Ajaccio just eight minutes into the match. Ajaccio’s defense gave Bordeaux a ridiculous amount of space to run through and even once they got near the goal, it was almost as if the defense was afraid to touch the ball. The team is now winless in nine games and has amassed a total of eight points out of fifteen games. Ouch. As the commentator put it: “Guillermo Ochoa maybe one of the best keepers here in France, but he cannot be expected to do everything.” AC Ajaccio 0-4 Bordeaux.
-Hector Herrera was left on the bench for Porto during their loss to Academica. Diego Reyes was not called up. Side note, I just found out that Herrera’s agent who made the deal with FC Porto is Nicky Blair. Who is Nicky Blair? Well, he is just the son of the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Not sure if helped with Reyes deal as well, but he also happens to be an agent for Marco Fabian. Perhaps we will see Fabian in England soon. FC Porto 0-1 Academica.
-Gabriel Piccolo did not get a chance to play last weekend due to the fact that Partick Thistle did not have a game set. I believe most of the Scottish Premier League had a break. They will be back in action this Saturday against Hibernian.
-Anibal Zurdo had a great game for Sabadell after scoring two goals for his side. He now has four goals for the season and will need to score a few more if he wants to keep them from getting relegated. Ulises Davila's Cordoba on the other hand had a difficult time with Barcelona's B squad. Davila played all 90 minutes. Sabadell 3-1 Mirandes. Cordoba 1-2 Barcelona B.
International player of the week: You can’t argue with two goals in one game. This one goes out to you Anibal Zurdo.
Upcoming games (pacific standard time)!
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
10:00 a.m. - Bastia @ AC Ajaccio (Ochoa) - Ligue 1
11:45 a.m. - Everton @ Manchester United (Chich) - EPL
Friday, December 6th, 2013
7:00 a.m. - Elche @ Villarreal (Aquino & Gio) - Copa del Rey
9:00 a.m. - Real Sociedad (Vela) @ Algeciras CF - Copa del Rey
10:00 a.m. - WORLD CUP DRAW
1:00 p.m. - Barcelona (This would have been a perfect game for Jona. Damn you injuries!) @ FC Cartagena - Copa del Rey
1:00 p.m. - Rayo Vallecano (Nery) @ Real Valladolid - Copa del Rey
Saturday, December 7th, 2013
4:45 a.m. - Newcastle United @ Manchester United (Chich) - EPL
7:00 a.m. - Partick Thistle (Piccolo) @ Hibernian - Scottish Premiership
9:00 a.m. - CD Sabadell (Zurdo) @ Barcelona B - Copa del Rey
10:45 a.m. - FC Twente (Tecatito) @ AZ Alkmaar - Eredivisie
12:15 p.m. - Braga @ FC Porto (Reyes & Herrera) - Portuguese Liga
Sunday, December 8th, 2013
8:00 a.m. - Valencia (Guardado) @ Gimnastic de Tarragona - Copa del Rey
9:15 a.m. - Cordoba (Davila) @ Real Zaragoza - Spanish Second Division
10:00 a.m. - Espanyol (Moreno) @ Real Jaen CF - Copa del Rey
Noon - AC Ajaccio (Ochoa) @ AS Monaco - Ligue 1
Alright that’s it! Remember to feel free to give me any feedback, thoughts, or criticisms through my twitter or through my e-mail posted at the top. I love to hear it!