Serbia match caps a big year for El Tri
QUERETARO, Mexico -- At the time of Mexico's first match of 2011 on Feb. 9 against Bosnia, there had been great anxiety and angst about the team's future. Mexico had come off yet another disappointing World Cup in 2010, they were now being coached by a man who was nobody's first choice, and several of the team's young stars playing in Europe had been relegated to the bench and were missing out on valuable developmental time.
On Friday, El Tri will play its final match of the year -- coincidentally enough against another former Yugoslavian territory, this time Serbia -- in the quaint historic town of Querétaro, home of the Mexican constitution, in what feels like a celebration of the most decorated year in Mexican soccer. All week, on platforms set up on the stone-covered streets of Querétaro, the city had staged nightly performances by local schoolchildren, dressed in traditional Mexican costumes, dancing to regional music. On Nov. 20, Mexico celebrates the centennial of the country's revolution. Until then, Mexico celebrates its soccer team.
The accomplishments have been detailed numerous times during the short life of this blog, but they bear repeating: Gold Cup champions, under-17 World Cup champions, Pan American Games gold medalists, and third-place finishers at the U-20 World Cup. Those don't even take into account the many individual accomplishment for several of the country's players: Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez's meteoric rise to English Premier League star; Julio Gomez, Jorge Espericueta and Carlos Fierro's sweep of the individual awards at the U-17 World Cup; Jorge Enriquez's Bronze Ball award at the U-20 World Cup.