Mexico’s new coach is…. Sven

Before I get started, let me just give a lot of credit to the Mexicans for thinking way outside the box on this hire.

But I still can’t quite believe that Mexico’s national team coach is… Sven Goran Eriksson. It’s a remarkable hire, in that 1. It shows that the Mexicans are realizing that something wasn’t working within their national team setup, and 2. It shows that at least one team in Concacaf has the will and resources to go get world class coaching talent.

Sven will get Mexico to the 2010 World Cup, no doubt about it. But I can see problems ahead for the Swede. His teams consistently play very well-organized, boring, low-scoring soccer. What’s different though from England or to a lesser extant Man City, is that Mexico has some extremely talented young attacking players. Folks will expect that teams with Nery Castillo, Giovanni Dos Santos, et al will attack. Mexico will absolutely get results, but when Sven trots out his traditional one-forward formation at the Azteca, how will the Mexican press and public take it?

Like with England, Sven will also face pressure from opponents within Mexico, the same people who castigated Ricardo LaVolpe for being Argentine. That group may even include Hugo Sanchez; who, despite his near disgraceful tenure with Mexico, is far too stupid and arrogant to suddenly shut up and leave the stage.

Another thing this may do is slightly temper down the USA-Mexico rivalry, at least from a Mexico perspective. With England, Sven was extremely good at managing expectations and I expect him to do the same here. Losses or ties against USA (especially in friendlies) won’t phase him because they don’t really matter to his overall goal of getting to the World Cup. As a non-Mexican, he will resist the temptation to throw long-term plans overboard to try to get a meaningless result against the USA which Sanchez did all the time. Look at how old some of his recent teams against the US were. I suspect the three “Bs,” Blanco, Borgetti and Bofo are done with Mexico now that Sven is on the scene.

It should also be said that between him, and noted “tactical dynamo” Bob Bradley, the next few USA-Mexico matches could feature 10 guys standing in their own ends watching the ball at the center spot while they wait for either Donovan or Castillo to draw a set piece. In other words, the matches could be really boring.

We shall see. But for now, full credit to the Mexicans for doing something US Soccer could not – hiring an experienced international coach.


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