• Tuesday Sep 10, 2013

    Tena, Mexico will not look beyond Tuesday

    Mexico interim head coach Luis Fernando Tena speaks to the press on September 9, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: Mexsport)

     

    By Michael Lewis

     

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Only 13 months ago, Luis Fernando Tena and his Mexican team were on top of the football world by becoming the first CONCACAF men's team to earn an Olympic gold medal in football.

     

    On Tuesday, Tena faces yet another great challenge as interim coach of Mexico’s full team: try to turn things around and upend the United States in a crucial World Cup qualifier at Columbus Crew on Tuesday night.

     

    Taking over for Jose Manuel de la Torre only hours after a 2-1 home defeat to Honduras, Tena has not had much time to organize El Tri.  The Mexicans have never won in three qualifiers in this Midwestern city with the U.S. recording 2-0 victories in 2001, 2005 and 2009.

     

    "It wasn't the ideal situation," he said.  "I've got to deal with it."

     

    Tena, an assistant under de la Torres, said that he intends to keep things simple.  He doesn't plan to make many changes, given his short time as interim coach.

     

    "You can't expect to make too many changes with a team that made some changes three days ago," he told a press conference at Columbus Crew Stadium on Monday night.  "The team has its way of playing, its ideas, its fundamentals.  You can't expect too many changes.”

     

    He added that he has talked with the players "especially because I have only three days to prepare.  I don't have too much time to prepare.  I have to communicate with them to see how everybody is feeling, see what we have to fix."

     

    There are things to fix on a team that has not lived up to expectations during the final qualifying round, despite going a perfect 6-0-0 in the previous round.

     

    The Mexicans (1-5-1, 8 points) don't have much room for error against the Americans (4-1-2, 13 points), who are on the verge of booking a berth at next year's World Cup in Brazil.

     

    "We know theoretically, you know visiting the U.S. is the hardest game," the 55-year-old continued.  "The United States is a very solid team, very well built.  They're physically strong.  It has improved a lot in the way it handles the ball, so possession of the ball will be key."

     

    If Mexico has any aspirations of reaching Brazil, Tena noted that El Tri must play aggressively.

     

    "We have to go get a result with the three points, so we have to be aggressive," he said.  "We know we have a great team, great players.  We have to take advantage.  We have to attack, which always has been our style of play."

     

    But that has not translated into many goals for the Mexicans, who have suffered three scoreless draws at the Azteca in the CONCACAF Hexagonal.

     

    During the press conference, Tena stressed several times that he was only thinking about Tuesday game and not future qualifiers. He added that he and staff, which worked under de la Torres, would worry about that come Wednesday.

     

    "We can't think beyond Tuesday," he said.  “What matters is the result.  I think that we play good soccer and manage the ball well.  We need points and they say wounds are all healed with points."

     

    Tena admitted that he had been in contact with de la Torre, who urged the Olympic coach and his staff to remain with the team, at least through Tuesday's game.

     

    "After the game, we're going to talk the [Mexican football] officials to see what they're thinking," he said.  "Yes, I am interested to hear what Chepo (de la Torre) thinks, if we should continue as a coaching staff with the team.  Right now, we're concentrating on the game tomorrow.  We're not thinking about it."

     

    As it should be, the focus is solely on beating the United States and reviving the campaign for Brazil 2014.

  • Champions League

    Related News



RELATED NEWS YOU'LL LIKE

Injuries force Mexico into WCQ roster changes

Injuries are taking a toll on Mexico as it continues preparing for the final two matches in the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

NY Red Bulls’ Kljestan replaces Brooks on U.S. WCQ roster

United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called Sacha Kljestan into training camp ahead of fourth-round World Cup qualifiers against St. Vincent & the Grenadines (September 2, away) and Trinidad & Tobago (September 6, home).

Altidore’s return highlights U.S. roster for WCQs

Forward Jozy Altidore, who missed the Copa America Centenario with a hamstring injury, was among 26 players named Sunday to the United States’ roster for two fourth-round FIFA World Cup qualifiers in September.

Mejia replaces Espinoza on Honduras WCQ roster

Alfredo Mejia will replace fellow midfielder Roger Espinoza on the Honduras roster for a pair of key World Cup qualifiers next month, the Federación Nacional Autónoma de Fútbol de Honduras (FENAFUTH) announced Saturday.

Back to health, NYC FC’s Matarrita earns Costa Rica call-up

On August 20, for the first time in almost six weeks, defender Ronald Matarrita started a Major League Soccer game.