Mexico failing to get out of the group stage in this Olympic qualifying tournament is a failure. Not even the most positive approach could paint the picture any other differently.
But to understand the depths of this failure - and the depths of many Mexican supporters' animosity and possible hatred of coach Hugo Sanchez - you need only examine just how many resources were poured into the Under-23 national team.
Many called this the Golden Generation of Mexican soccer, since the current young generation (19-22 year-olds or so) were part of Mexico's Under-17 World Championship squad of 2005. Already, the groundwork for future successes was seemingly laid in Peru. Elements of that team participated in the 2007 U-20 World Cup but the team fell short of reaching the final.
Still, the Olympics were supposed to have been another crucial part of their development. Hugo Sanchez even went so far as to promise a medal in the Beijing games.
The task of identifying players and pieceing together the Under-23 roster began in Denver in August 2007. Mexico played Colombia and lost 1-0 but that match saw the inclusion of guys like Santiago Fernandez, Edgar Castillo, Cesar Villaluz and Julio Cesar Dominguez, players who would go on to play a key role in the final Under-23 squad.
On Oct. 17, 2007, Mexico played Guatemala in Los Angeles. Like the Colombia match, this game featured some senior roster players such as Jonny Magallon and Gonzalo Pineda but included mostly players from the Under-23 pool. Three players who many felt would have made a difference in Carson this last week played in that game as Carlos Vela, Giovani Dos Santos and Andres Guardado all played in that match. Still, Mexico ended up losing to Guatemala 3-2.
Mexico tried to secure the participation of the aforementioned trio from their respective Spanish clubs but were unsuccessful in doing so. But the talent that remained was seemingly sufficient. The team gathered for preparation in early February as several Mexican clubs had to do without their participating players for the tour. Thus clubs like America (Guillermo Ochoa, Enrique Esqueda, Juan Carlos Silva) and Cruz Azul (Julio Cesar Dominguez, Cesar Villaluz) had to make do without some key players for quite a long stretch of the season (and in some cases international tournament matches).
Mexico lined up five friendlies as preparation for the tournament; three in Mexico and two in the United States. Everything seemed fine as Mexico started off with a 2-0 win over Chile. But then Ecuador beat Mexico 1-0 and Paraguay held Mexico to a scoreless draw. While the results suddenly were drying up, the squad itself was getting valuable time with each other.
Mexico then played a pair of games here in the United States, but both games were draws - a 1-1 tie with Australia and a scoreless game against Finland.
Yet despite the lack of results, Sanchez and the players were presenting a confident demeanor entering the tournament and even up until the final game.
So, ultimately Mexico not only had a talented roster to draw from - its league is one of the strongest on this side of the world - but the team spent a great deal of time together with nothing but this qualifying tournament to prepare for.
Mexico could have gotten its squad together two days before the start of the tournament and many would have expected the team to advance nonetheless. But having spent more than one month together, playing games, training, etc., it makes it even more catastrophic that Mexico did not so much as get out of the group stage.
When you look at it that way and couple it with previous broken promises, then, it's no wonder why many are calling for Sanchez's head.