Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio (pictured) answers questions at a press conference on June 5, 2016, in Glendale, Arizona, USA. (Photo: Mexsport)
GLENDALE, Arizona -- Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio is said to be a studious coach, more than the average manager. He spends hours studying film, checking stats, charts and scouting reports.
The 54-year-old proved some of that Saturday afternoon at a press conference at University of Phoenix Stadium. Osorio flipped through game plan sheets at the podium. He took notes and looked over some more plan sheets, even doing so in between questions from a room packed with media members.
It was Osorio at what he does best. He prepares for matches in his own way and leaves no stone unturned. With his side’s Copa America Centenario opener against an expected Luis Suarez-less Uruguay on Sunday quickly approaching, there was no time to waste.
“Collectively, we believe he (Suarez) is in the top five players in the world,” Osorio said. “I personally think at the moment, he is the best. Not only because he scores 40 goals, but because of the quality of his goals. He is a great finisher and he scores great goals. He’s also extraordinary in recovering balls and all the qualities he has as a finisher are extraordinary.”
Osorio said he is planning his scheme as if Suarez was going to play in order to be prepared for anything. There is no room for improvisation for a coach with a perfect 7-0-0 record since taking charge in October.
“I would say that there are no such things as improvisations,” commented Osorio. “For those who attend our practices, we always try to in training sessions to do what will be necessary or useful for future games.”
And part of that useful planning could be strategic, competing against Uruguay as if Suarez was on the pitch. That strategy is imparted to those players who would have been responsible for keeping the Barcelona star in check.
“A particular player will always understand what his functions are for a specific position,” Osorio remarked. “You always work on real game situations and we highlight two or three outstanding features for that particular position.”
Osorio is in a position to lead Mexico in what could be its greatest challenge in Copa America. He realizes that the Tricolor has a “home-field advantage” by playing in the United States.
“We had an idea of what the national team represents to people here, but by being in Atlanta and San Diego (for recent friendlies) now, we believe that we didn’t realize quite enough the passion that the Mexican people have for this national team,” finished Osorio. “To all of them and every single one of them, thank you for the support. I hope Sunday they will be as loud and cheerful as they were in Atlanta and San Diego. Our players recognize that and feel that support.”