Sunday, July 8, 2007

The best?

Every time the U.S. beats Mexico, which is often, U.S. fans point out how their side is better.

But every time Mexico pulls out results like Sunday's 6-0 win over Paraguay, it's hard to hear U.S. fans' arguments.

The U.S. does well against Mexico and poorly against other top-tier competition in competitive tournaments. Mexico does poorly against the U.S. but holds their own against top-tier competition in competitive tournaments.

So the debate rages on as to which side is better.

My answer: who cares?

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Who cares.

There is no question Mexico is transforming before our eyes into a force with Hugo Sanchez. It's safe to say he is the man for the job at this point.

What this reinforces in my mind is how idiotic and overrated Ricardo Lavolpe was as a coach and how much of a wasted opportunity Germany 2006 was.

To think if Lavolpe would have taken Nery Castillo, Blanco and Bofo to Germany instead of his son in law and ancient Suarez. To think if Guardado would have started games instead of only playing one half against Argentina.

Semifinals is pretty good no matter what they can say they are top 4 in the Americas.

Anonymous said...

It could be a case of one team having the number of the other team. You know how a team just matches up well with a particular team. Though they can beat that one team they cann't seem to beat the teams that the team they have the number to can beat. Something like that.

Whatever that was just my 2 cents.

Josh said...

who cares?

U.S. and Mexico fans, evidently.

Manny P said...

Great Comment Luis!

I personally think that there's two reasons why Mexico has not beaten the U.S.

First, they do not respect us and see our MNT as a joke. The end result is that they become frustrated when things don't go as easy as they expect. I think the Mexican players still assume the US and the MLS are complete jokes and fail to appreciate that they are worthy adversaries. Part of the reason is because they view their league as the best in America. Well, perhaps it is, but that does not mean that other leagues are less deserving of respect.

Second, they get WAAAYYYY too hot headed about the game, lose focus and end up forgetting the tactics their coach wants them to implement. You may aks, why do they get so darn hot headed??? Well, to them, it's about winning one for all of the Mexican fans in the US who are "discriminated against" by the "racist" Americans. Because I was born in Latin America, I can tell you that this feeling is not unique to Mexico. The irony is that the comment iself is as RACIST as the conclusion it makes. The bigger irony is that most countries in Latin America are probably more racists toward foreigners - and especially those in neighboring countries who are economically inferior - than we could ever be here in the US. Don't belive me? Ask any Mexican what they think about Central Americans. Ask a Costa Rican what they think about Nicaraguans. Ask an Argentinian what they think about Uruguayans.
The simple fact is that Mexico's proximity to the US, the great number of immigrants here, and a blind eye toward their own discriminatory practices but a wide eye towards our faults only adds fire to the fuel. It will be interesting to see how Neri's integration to the team changes this dynamic, since he grew up outside of Mexico and, although probably not a great fan of the US, I doubt he harbors the deep-seeded recentment most of the older Mexican players still have. I have a feeling he does not care, and that may be the bell that awakens the sleeping giant.

At any rate, you are so right Luis. The end result is GREAT SOCCER, so we really shouldn't care that much.

Anyway, on a side note, it scares me how this Copa America has demonstrated how deep the Mexican team is in comparison to the US Team.

Our MLS "standouts" pale in comparison to Neri and Guardado's performances in the past 4 games. The U-20 cup brings hope, but I think those players need to set their sights on European teams if they want to ensure our dominance continues. I think part of the Mexican success has been their tradition of scouting young kids and putting them on the youth teams of their professional teams at a very young age. NOt only do the teams get to closely scout talent this way, the kids also get the benefit of playing for free. Compare that to the way we do it on the US where you practically have to play for a paid club team to get noticed at an early age. This is unacceptable. The MLS and the USSF need to start scouting for talent in their communities EARLY. The Galaxy RIOS program is a great start, but it needs to target younger kids. I'm sure this puts them at odds with the AYSO (if its still around), but screw them if they get mad.

Lastly, I think it is comical that ironically, part of Mexico's success is attributable to the "Lavolpistas" who elected to stay home and "rest." I suspect they wanted Hugo to crash and burn. The end result, however, is that it has opened the doors to the new blood. At the Gold Cup, Mexico wielded the oldest team of the competition, and suffered. In the Copa America, they took a young squad and flourished. The exact oppossite result we had in both tournies.

In the end, and also ironically, Mexico's success will hopefully have a positive impact with the US. The fact that these young guns are going to become regulars on their team will force us to make changes to accommodate for the speed of the young Mexicans. Gooch is great with tall lanky players like Borghetti, but I don't see him keeping up with Neri nor with Guardado. He's going to need help. In fact, I think this may force Bradley to explore options with Adu, Jozy, and a couple of other fast U-20's earlier than he had anticipated.

Happy sunday everybody!

Anonymous said...

@ Manny P.

You make have some great commentary but I had to re-read your post a few times. Just my two cents, the parts about racism and economic differences, immigration and animosity have very little to do with football in my opinion. You do make some sweeping generalization about Mexico, the US and Latin America, sometimes those things may be true in some specific instances but not in a larger general sense all the time.

Afterall for example, Mexico has a diverse population of 100 million and in fact there are some Mexicans who do not even speak Spanish, have never seen see a football match, don't play it and could care less etc...same as in other Latin American nations.

By the way, scouting in Mexico is a mixed bag with some great results lately but let's not get too excited about Mexico's superior scouting and development, there are plenty of players falling through the cracks. I know from personal experience that some talented players quit their professional football careers (Salcido almost did) because they make 150 dollars a month and have to ride a bus around to get around, and often live thousands of miles from home, lots of kids call it quits waiting in the wings.

BBSC

Nick said...

Every game is an independent variable. There are too many things that happen in a game that effect the outcome to make any kind of comparisons about how good teams are based on games they don't play against each other. Like in every other sport, there are no transitive properties in soccer.
A clear example: what if Caceres hadn't made that horrific backpass that led to Bobadilla's red, Nery's penalty, and the rout that ensued? Answer: totally different game. Another example: What if bornstein hadn't played that horrific backpass in the game against Paraguay? Answer: totally different game. The way the US played they may easily have won that game and taken that momentum, walked through a weak colombia squad and would have been facing Mexico today instead of Paraguay. And would anyone have really bet against the US to beat Mexico, even with that ragtag team? If you value your money and know your history, I don't think so...
The point is, we can only compare the teams based on how they perform against each other and over a large sample size of games, to try and limit the influence of all those variables that change the outcomes of games have on the overall picture.
What I think is safe to say is that the US and Mexico, at full strength, are probably three and four in the Americas right now, behind Argentina and Brazil. Mexico's body of work in Copa America and Copa Libertadores speaks for itself. The US's body of work against Mexico speaks for itself. This rivalry is growing astronomically and is teetering dangerously close to becoming one of the best in the world, despite its youth. Mexico will go down against Argentina, but their success in Copa America is good for the US in the long run...

Anonymous said...

Let's be fair Mexico played very weak teams in the group games during the last World Cup. The one good team they played Portugal handed it to them. We all agree that Neri and Cacho should have been the starting Forwards during the Gold Cup so if anything this is a better Mexico team than the one that played during the Gold Cup. All i'm saying is Mexico wins against South American teams yes but a Ronaldinho and Kaka Brasil who knows? Big time European powers? A third team USA squad had to make Paraguay sweat it out and it was obvious after the second goal Paraguay all but conceded the game.

Anonymous said...

US fans will always want to throw away the international results in favor of the head to head results, and vice versa for Mexico fans.

Personally, I don't think head to head wins really matter all that much, especially when you can't back them up with international wins, no matter what the "variables" of the game.


Once the US starts outperforming Mexico in big tournaments that aren't the Gold Cup on a consistent basis, then it will become more clear that the US is the better team.

As of right now though, it seems to be more of a case that the US has figured out how to beat Mexico outside of Mexico and Mexico just not wanting to respect or play the US the way they play bigger teams.

And for those that value the head to head results over international wins, Mexico has a winning record against Brazil since 1999. How many US fans are willing to say that Mexico is better than Brazil? That's what I thought.

Anonymous said...

US sends their A-Team and they are in the same spot as Mexico...no doubt. They dominated a 11-man Paraguay with the "c" team...

Anonymous said...

I am a big US and Mexico fan but how can one say the US would be in the same spot if their A team were there? How can one argue that Mexico had a weaker group. How can anybody say Paraguay was on the ropes v. US. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Bob Bradely should have just nutted up and demanded Landicakes, Dempsey and Beasley test their mettle against Messi and co. The US had their chance and blew it. What an invaluable experience it would have been for the boys to play Zanetti, Messi, Riquelme, Crespo, Tevez. To be the best you have to play the best and beat the best.

I can't remember the last time the US beat Argentina or Brazil with their A team in a tournament.

For the record, Mexico has beaten Argentina and Brazil both with their A teams in fact very recently in tourney play, and that includes Kaka and Ronaldinho. Of course all it means is the level of play of Mexico is approaching them in tems of consistancy, it doesn't mean they are better.

Anonymous said...

The US had a chance to prove it is one of the top 5 teams in the Americas but it blew it by sending that 3rd rate squad. If you want to say you are one of the top dogs you have to prove it by taking on the big boys. Stop hiding behind "the Copa America doesn't matter b/c we are going to the Confederations Cup in 09 so we can get that all important dry run in South Africa before the 2010 World Cup". You might want to beat the big teams in meaningful games in a really competitive tournaments before you have a repeat of the 06 World Cup.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the argument that Mexico does better outside of the Gold Cup to prove it's a better team. First of all the Gold Cup should matter more in terms of it being the Championship of the region it belongs to. Against South Africa 2 years ago we all remember that result.

Anonymous said...

"I don't like the argument that Mexico does better outside of the Gold Cup to prove it's a better team. First of all the Gold Cup should matter more in terms of it being the Championship of the region it belongs to."

This isn't necessarily true. Before the 90s Brazil lagged way behind Argentina and Uruguay in Copa America championships, mostly because they just didn't care.

There was a span from 1949 to 1989 that Brazil won zero Copa Americas.
I'd be hard pressed to find anyone that says that the Brazil of the 60s and 70s wasn't the best team in South America even without Copa America titles.

It wasn't until the last 10-12 years that Brazil started to take the tournament seriously and started winning Copa America's more consistently. Regional tournaments are great for bragging rights, but for most teams the World Cup truly indicates who the best team in the region/world really is. Also if you use the regional tournament as a true indicator of regional power, then you have to admit that Greece is the best team in Europe since they are current Euro Cup title holders.

Anonymous said...

What's not true were talking about Mexico not Brasil? At the time that Greece wont he championship they beat very good teams against all their big players. So at the time yes they showed they were the best team. Much has happened since then to remove them from that title. And so if the World Cup is the true indicator of teams then Mexico and the US are really nothing big in the world as they never get passed the second round with a very few exceptions. Relying on that theory between 2002 and 2006 the US is the better team and Mexico now is?

Let's look at this like boxing. We all have seen over the years how people talk about which boxer is better. Then we see at the common fighters they beat. Then finally people say well we will not know who is better until we see them fight against each other. And it comes down to how they do against each other to prove who is the better fighter not how they did against other fighters. Then after the fight whoever wins we proclaim the better fighter.

Can we come to the same conclusion in soccer as what we use in boxing?

I know Luis loves boxing he's got to.

M. Verde said...

Excellent comments, but as always biased towards the U.S.
This obsession with the U.S. and Brazil having sent their C-, D+, XYZ teams, is just a great excuse. When Mexico played Brazil, they palyed without Oswaldo, Osorio, Salcido, Pardo, Guardado, and Borgetti! What "letter" of the alphabet does that make Mexico? And just for the record, on their prior meeting in the 2005 Confederations Cup, we also beat them, and that time they fielded Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano, you name it! As a matter of fact of the last thirteen times Mexico has palyed Brazil, Mexico has beaten them nine, tied two, and lost two; sort of how the MNT is doing against the USMT!
Out of the three games Mexico has played in Copa America, on two ocassions they fielded teams that had never played together before! They have scored ten goals, and received one!
The fact that Paraguay lost a key player early in the match, was of consequence. But Paraguay is not Puerto Rico! You are going to tell me that if Oswaldo would have been red carded and Ochoa would have had to take his place, and someone, even Nery, had been sacrificed, that then Mexico would have lost 6-0? I think not! Give credit where credit is due, so that when you expect it, it will be given to you too. Mexico was far superior to Paraguay yesterday! In soccer, and in life, should have, doesn't exist!!!
I think that the U.S. made a BIG mistake in not sending whatever they consider their "best" team is to Venezuela. I also have a feeling it will come back to haunt them!
The U.S. had momentum on their side, and two players that coul have shined, Donovan and Spector. Now that's long gone!!!
Let's hope that the gamble the USMT took so that it could be in the 2010 Confederations Cup pays off the way they thought it should!

Anonymous said...

"Let's look at this like boxing. We all have seen over the years how people talk about which boxer is better. Then we see at the common fighters they beat. Then finally people say well we will not know who is better until we see them fight against each other. And it comes down to how they do against each other to prove who is the better fighter not how they did against other fighters. Then after the fight whoever wins we proclaim the better fighter.

Can we come to the same conclusion in soccer as what we use in boxing?"

Okay then, let's hear you say Mexico is better than Brazil with that logic. Oh, also Norway has a winning record against Brazil, throw them in as another team that is better than Brazil.

L.B. said...

I guess part of the debate over the debate seems to hinge on what you consider "best" or "better" to mean.

And as much as I like boxing, I don't think you can draw comparisons to other sports or fields. Is the best rock group the one that sells more records or has more number one hits? Is the best movie the one that draws the most at the box office or wins more awards? Is the best car the one that goes faster or the one with the longer-lasting engine?

I guess that's why I finally threw up my arms and stopped caring. The U.S. has dominated Mexico since 2000 but that in and of itself does not mean the U.S. is better than Mexico, at least to me. To the next person, it may very well mean that. You can spin it so many ways and bring in so many different factors that you'll make your head hurt.

L.B. said...

Okay, some more thoughts to see how easily you can debunk someone's argument.

To US fans who think the US is better, answer this question (without bringing up the head-to-head record):

How can the U.S. be better than Mexico when the U.S. lost all three of its Copa America games and Mexico is in the semifinals; when the U.S. was eliminated in the 2006 World Cup group stage while Mexico reached the second round; when the U.S. failed to win a game in the 2003 Confederations Cup while Mexico beat Brazil and made it to the second phase of the 2005 Confederations Cup?


And to Mexico fans who feel El Tri is El Gigante todavia, answer this: How can you claim to be better than the United States when you have won EXACTLY TWO of the last 12 games against the U.S.?


---
On an aside, it's times like this when I end up irritating fans from both sides. It's happened before, mostly from my SI.com stories, and it's bound to happen again.

Anonymous said...

I asked a question on the boxing analogy not to be treated as my theory to pick the better team. I see a lot of comparisons to other sports on the comments of this blog so I threw out another one. So if the feeling is that you cannot compare this sport to another sport then no one should be allowed to make those camparison comments.

"Okay then, let's hear you say Mexico is better than Brazil with that logic. Oh, also Norway has a winning record against Brazil, throw them in as another team that is better than Brazil."
Who do you think is better Mexico or Brasil?

I'm a fan of both teams just like a lot of people here are. But head to head it's pretty obvious as to who has the others number. In other tournaments there is a difference as to who does better. Two facts there but one fact no one can make clear is who's better. I can and do argue on both sides just for the sake of defending each team. But until one can consistenly beat big teams I mean not just Brasil or not just Mexico and win Big Time tournaments then we will never have a better team per se. But hey isn't this the best thing to happen to these squads.

Anonymous said...

To LB:

Can someone please explain why any time somebody talks about US v. Mexico, the line in the sand is always drawn at the year 2000 as some magical marker? It's almost like historians using B.C. to denote civilization started at this arbitrary point.

If one were to pick a good starting point it would be 1990, the first time the US made the World Cup while Mexico watched in their Lazy Boy recliners.

However, every time the media prints something the old, "even since 2000" thing comes along.

Anonymous said...

Because were talking current team not 1990 teams.

Anonymous said...

Really, so we're talking about Carlos Llamosa, Eddie Pope, Tony Sanneh, Jeff Agoos, Reyna, Clint Dempsey.

Let's be realistic, us US fans use that figure to feel good about ourselves, it means very little when you look at the big picture and peformance in big tourneys.

To me, each successive World Cup cycle builds off of the other so the correct measuring point would be 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006.
What you see in that cycle as any good stock analyst would tell you is a steadily rising stock that dips every other 4 years, so expect a rebound for 2010.

I will add that the US missed a huge chance to test their base squad with Landon and co versus the mighty Argentina which will be a favorite in 2010. Something could have been learned other than Eddie Gaven and Justin Mapp are not the answer.

Anonymous said...

That's right, anonymous. I mean that 1993 four-goal thrashing by Mexico clearly shows that they're better and should never be forgotten. Then again, the US did pull of that big win in 1980...

L.B. said...

I'm not sure why everyone uses 2000 as a cut-off date but I can tell you why I think that's a useful date.

There are really three eras in the US-Mexico rivalry. 1) Everything from 1989 and before; 2) Italia '90 to the '99 Confederations Cup; 3) 2000 to now.

1) The dark days of US soccer ended when Paul Caligiuri scored against Trinidad & Tobago. The US fed started taking soccer seriously afterward and resources were poured into the sport.

2) During the 1990s, the U.S. and Mexico built up a rivalry that was nonexistent before. There was a lot of back-and-forth in that decade with both sides claiming big victories over the other, perhaps the most surprising of which was a draw, the United States' 0-0 draw in Azteca in 1997.

3) The current era in the US-Mex evolution began when the US beat Mexico 3-0 in the US Cup in 2000. Later that year, Landon Donovan earned his first cap and scored his first goal in a 2-0 win over Mexico, then the U.S. beat Mexico 2-0 in February 2001 and the lopsided results began in earnest.