Mexico can dream again

Luis Gonzalez , Staff Reporter

It came down to one game where the result meant everything. Whatever had been done prior, wouldn’t matter. It would be undone if the result at the end of 90 minutes was not favorable.

The Mexican national team made sure it all still mattered when all was said and done. Just under a year ago Mexico was sweating to get a tie at home against teams like El Salvador and Panama, ateam that barely made it to Brazil, has now produced three praiseworthy performances that have a whole nation convinced that it is safe to dream.

Even the most optimistic fan had to have doubts about the Mexican team going into the tournament. After a nightmarish couple of years where qualification to the World Cup was in serious danger, the fear that Mexico was going to Brazil just to embarrass themselves was real and shared by many.

The way head coach Miguel Herrera’s team has gotten these results proves that this team can achieve something truly historical and transcendent by reaching the quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time ever in a World Cup not played on Mexican soil.

All three performances have been solid. Starting with Cameroon, Mexico showed confidence and a conviction that had not been there in a while. The resiliency and composure the team showed against horrendous calls from the referee, which disallowed two legitimate goals for the Mexicans, were also traits that have been missing—not only in the recent past but in Mexico’s entire soccer history. The team kept playing and found its reward in Oribe Peralta’s right foot.

Then came Brazil, the five-time World Cup champion and the prime candidate to win it all—the host who doesn’t lose at home and the team with some of the biggest and brightest stars the game has to offer.

Another solid 90 minutes throughout all of its lines, complimented by an inspired performance from goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa gave Mexico one of its best results ever in a World Cup. A 0-0 tie with the host nation had Mexico already surpassing expectations.

But for a country that has advanced out of the group stage in every World Cup since 1994, anything short of that would still be a total failure.

After 70 tense minutes, it took just 10 for them to run over Croatia. Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez each scored a goal in a span of ten minutes that sent Mexico through to the next round.

It hasn’t always been perfect. There have been moments of imprecision, mistakes in the back, lack of creativity on the attack and one would hope there is no need for miraculous saves from your keeper to get results, but overall Mexico has demonstrated that on the field the good outweighs the bad.

Hector Herrera, the young midfielder, is playing at a tremendous level, not just being the best man on the team, but one of the best in the whole tournament. Ochoa has performed spectacularly, Jose Vazquez has provided great timing and rhythm and veterans like Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado and Francisco Rodrigues have shown poise.

What Mexico has done with these three results is give itself an opportunity. Once again they have a very real opportunity to transcend, to be one of the protagonists and to reach levels on the world stage that they have never reached before.

The first obstacle to overcome is the team from the Netherlands. Like Brazil, they are a historically superior team filled with major stars like Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben. Still, Mexico has shown that through their team play they have the capability of competing with anybody, no matter how impressive their opponents are.

They have given their fans permission to dream and hope that this round of 16 will end differently than the previous ones. It will take a great performance, maybe even perfect, but we’ve seen Mexico relish in that role of the underdog. They will have the support of the crowd and at least it isn’t Argentina again.

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected]