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Hernandez: Mexicans abroad thriving

Mexico 16 hours ago
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Hernandez: Jimenez transitioning well

Mexico Aug 19, 2014
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Faitelson: The other Raúl in Madrid

Liga MX Aug 13, 2014
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Miguel Herrera

Latest Team: Mexico

2014 FIFA World Cup

  • 4GP
  •  
  • 2Won
  •  
  • 1Draw
  •  
  • 1Lost
  •  

Profile

Previous Clubs: Atlante, Monterrey, Veracruz, UAG, Club America

Honours: Liga MX Clausura title: 2013

When he first joined, Herrera was technically on loan to the Mexican Football Federation from his club side Club America. But after leading El Tri to a 9-3 aggregate playoff triumph over New Zealand, the FMF handed him the chance to lead the team at the World Cup on a permanent basis.

Herrera's playoff success capped off a chaotic period for Mexico, who burned through three coaches in a matter of weeks. Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre was let go in September, with assistant Luis Fernando Tena taking his place for just one match, a 2-0 loss to the United States. Victor Manuel Vucetich oversaw the last two qualifiers during the Hexagonal, but was let go after a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica. Mexico only qualified for the playoffs when the U.S. rallied for a 3-2 win at Panama.

Opinions vary in terms of how much stock to put in Herrera's wins with El Tri. On the one hand, beating an outclassed New Zealand side seems hardly worthy of praise. Yet the fact that he got El Tri over the qualifying finish line -- and saved the Mexico economy upwards of $600 million -- has left the FMF and the country grateful.

As a player Herrera is remembered as a chippy, intense defender, who would do anything to win. He spent the majority of his career with Atlante, for whom he played during four different spells, and won a title with the Iron Colts in 1993. He also spent time with UAG, Santos Laguna, Queretaro, and Toros Neza. Internationally, he made 14 appearances for Mexico, playing on the 1993 Copa America squad that fell in the final to Argentina.

Shortly after retiring as a player with Atlante in 2000, he was back with the Iron Colts as manager. After two years he moved to Monterrey where his teams entertained, but couldn't break through to win a championship, losing the Apertura final in both 2004 and 2005.

Herrera was ousted following a run of poor results in 2007 and then endured a short-lived tenure with Veracruz that ended when he couldn't prevent Los Tiburones from being relegated.

This period was followed by a two-year stint with UAG and then a return to Atlante in 2010. Herrera allowed his contract to run out in 2011, and he was announced as Club America's coach in November of that year, signing a six-month contract. At the time, America was a club perceived to be in decline, but Herrera turned around the team's fortunes. His first two campaigns ended with defeats in the semifinals, adding to the perception that Herrera couldn't win a championship. But both he and the club broke through in 2013, winning the Clausura title in dramatic fashion. America prevailed over Cruz Azul 4-2 on penalties after playing 105 minutes of the second leg with only 10 men.

Throughout his managerial career, Herrera has forged a reputation as fiery, charismatic figure who is close to his players. As the playoff matches with New Zealand showed, he celebrates every goal with unbridled joy. While the playoffs don't make for a large sample size, Herrera also has a profound belief in the Mexican players -- as a result El Tri looked to be a team playing without the fear that had characterized their earlier playoff performances. His upbeat persona also has allowed him to maintain good relations with the Mexican press.

Strengths: Herrera's reputation is one of a players' coach who instills a strong sense of belief within his squad. With El Tri, he showed an impressive ability to implement his methods quickly, while also instilling discipline.

Weaknesses: In the past, Herrera has been criticized for being too attack-minded, although his recent success would suggest he has curbed that instinct to a degree.

Career high: Leading Club America to the Liga MX Clausura championship in 2013.

Career low: Hired by Veracruz in 2008, Herrera was unable to prevent the club from being relegated.

Tactics: Herrera prefers to operate out of an attack-minded 3-5-2, with both wing-backs getting forward with regularity.

Quotes: "If in six months, I don't work, I'll move aside." Miguel Herrera upon being hired to coach Club America.

Trivia: Herrera's nickname from his playing days is "El Piojo", which translates to "The Louse."

Words: Jeff Carlisle