Mexico's questionable Pan-Am roster 

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
12:28
PM ET

Wednesday night's opening victory against Ecuador in the Pan-American Games was in many ways a symbol of all that's wrong with the Mexican U-22 team right now. After an early defensive lapse put the hosts in the hole, El Tri's tying goal came after a series of headers bounced around the box for Oribe Peralta to head home. The winner came late when a clearance freakishly rebounded off Jorge Enriquez and into the net in a play resembling a blocked punt more than a streak of the young midfielder's potential brilliance.

That the 27-year-old Peralta was the focus of the attack for 90 minutes, while future star Enriquez only came on for a few late minutes, reveals Coach Luis Tena's mentality for a misfit competition on which few nations place much importance: win at all costs.

After a streak of mediocre results, Tena is a coach fearful for his job. The result is a disjointed squad incapable of providing the offensive flow that fans have come to expect of Mexican teams at every level. And the emphasis on winning now is also affecting the U-22 side's longer term chances of making a mark at the London Olympics next year -- clearly the most important tournament on the U-23 schedule, and probably the only one Mexico should really care about right now.

Instead, with Tena at the helm, Mexico has decided to underline the games in Guadalajara with a red marker. While other powers like Argentina and Brazil sent watered down versions of the U-20 teams that competed in the World Cup in Colombia in August, Mexico has assembled a squad more geared towards winning matches now than preparing for the challenges down the road.


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Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for ESPN.com. Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.

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