Mexico sticks with plan for continued Copa success

Copa America Centenario quarterfinalist Mexico (pictured) trains at Levi's Stadium in San Clara, California, USA, on June 17, 2016. (Photo: Mexsport)

SANTA CLARA, California -- The Copa America Centernario’s knockout stage has started under a very simple premise: survive and advance.

Mexico, however, is not concerned about departing before achieving its objective.

The Tricolor has been abundantly clear about its desire to earn a place the final and fight for the title.

If that doesn’t happen, though, midfielder Hector Herrera won’t view the Copa campaign as a shortcoming. He said the team would just have to accept its fate and move forward.

On Saturday, Mexico faces defending champion Chile in the quarterfinals at Levi’s Stadium.

“We played a good first stage, but it does us no good to lose against Chile,” commented Herrera, who has started in each of Mexico’s three group-stage matches and scored one goal. “If we lose, we go home and that’s it. I wouldn’t take it as a failure. We would need to move on.”

Head coach Juan Carlos Osorio has penciled 21 different competitors into his Copa starting lineups, giving four players their first starts in the second match against Jamaica (2-0 win) and six more in a draw with Venezuela (1-1).

Herrera, a standout in Portugal with Porto, doesn’t mind the squad rotation and is not concerned about having different players around him for each outing.

Why would he? After all, Mexico is unbeaten since Osorio was brought on board in October 2015.

“There are some things about practice that we can’t tell you because of privacy, but it is very clear what (Osorio) asks of us,” Herrera remarked. “His rotational system clearly explains it. We practice it during the time we have and that makes it easier. When he makes you play a certain position it’s because you’ve already practiced it.”

The 26-year-old is grateful not to be one of the rotated players and respects the coaching staff’s decisions.

“All I can do is be thankful to the coach for the chance he has given me,” expressed Herrera. “I need to demonstrate to him on the field that I can keep playing.”

A win against Chile will guarantee that Mexico and Herrera keep playing. Perhaps, all the way to the June 26 final in East Rutherford, New Jersey.