FIFA.COM recently published an interview with Jürgen Klinsmann where, among other things, he admitted that the Mexican national team was a notch better than his own USMNT.
The whole interview is worth your time, but the most salient piece is this:
“Your first game in charge ended in a draw with Mexico, but before that the US were beaten badly in the Gold Cup final. Is this is a bad time for USA in this rivalry?
I would love to play Mexico every day. When you play teams like this, good teams, you play up to their level. Mexico are a notch above us on the international scene, there is no denying that. At the same time, we know we can beat them and we’ve proven it.”
Klinsmann’s not a dumb guy. He knows that El Tri has made great strides in fostering young talent over that last decade, and that investment has paid off. Mexico recently finished third in the U-20 FIFA World Cup, and won the U-17 altogether, the second one this decade (they won it on 2005). Two of the country’s best players– Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Giovani Dos Santos– are under the age of 24, play abroad amongst the best in the world, and have at least two World Cups in them.
So yeah, to say that Mexico is better at this point than the United States is pretty obvious statement. And unless the United States makes a concerted effort to emulate their southern neighbors, this will be the case for years to come.
This is what that dominance looks like.
Luckily, not all is lost. Having Klinsmann on the bench makes the team better than having Bob Bradley make the calls, as evidenced by 1-1 draw this past August. Not only is he a better tactician than Bradley, but he’s also openly looking for young and undiscovered talent:
“You joked early on in your tenure about finding a “hidden Messi” somewhere in this very large USA. Do you think there are pockets of unknown players who might have what it takes to go all the way?
There is definitely talent in the US that is not being tapped. I think most of them are to be found in the Hispanic areas, in places like Southern California and Texas and Florida. We are trying to get our heads and hands around that. We are doing great work in building bridges and getting these players over to our side early, so they don’t get pulled toward Mexico.”
Klinsmann is looking to majorly update the look of the USMNT. Historically, these matches have been Mexicans vs. White People (with one or two people of color). Major props to the German national for recognizing the value that Latinos add to this country. I’ll still pick El Tri over their gringo counterparts any day of the week, but hopefully that decision will soon be a complicated one for me to make.
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