Mexico's U20 World Cup early exit means Almaguer should step down
There was a bit of hope for Mexico after the narrow 2-1 victory over Uruguay earlier this week, but a 2-0 loss to Serbia on Friday sent El Tri to an embarrassing early exit from the U-20 World Cup.
With three points and a goal differential of -3, Mexico will head back home after taking part in just the group stage of the competition. Fingers will justifiably be pointed at El Tri's manager, Sergio Almaguer. He had numerous questionable decisions and never appeared to provide the inspiration that the team so desperately needed.
With a poor showing in the 2013 U-20 World Cup and disappointing results this month, Mexico will likely have to make changes in management soon for the youth squad.
Here are three takeaways from Mexico's showing in the U20 World Cup:
1. Almaguer must go
First and foremost, Almaguer must leave.
The manager has not only led Mexico to an underwhelming finish, but done it for the second U-20 World Cup in a row.
Back in 2013, Almaguer's side narrowly qualified for the knockout round after gaining just three points in the group stage. After scraping by the first round, Mexico lost 2-1 against Spain in the round of 16.
Mexico had similar results in this World Cup, as it failed to secure more than one victory in three matches played. However, the obvious difference in the 2015 competition was a much more talented roster that Almaguer had at his disposal. With only one win and two goals scored in all three group stage matches, the team will likely feel gutted after an early departure from the tournament.
Inconsistent starting XI's as well as questionable substitutions, brought little stability to the squad during this competition. Big name players like Orbelin Pineda, Diego Gama, and Raul Gudino were all left on the bench to start the tournament and never seemed to have trust in the manager.
Although Gama's red card in the Mali match is justifiable for a spot on the sidelines, the lack of play for Gudino and a strange early substitution for Pineda in the Serbia game hardly provided faith for Almaguer from Mexico fans.
Not to mention the fact that the manager failed to inspire his group of youngsters when they needed it the most against Mali and Serbia during the group stage.
2. Young El Tri stars fail to make an impression in the U20 World Cup
Erick Gutierrez, Hirving Lozano, Erick Aguirre, and Pineda are just a few of the Mexico players that had the potential to stand-out during this tournament. With an easy CONCACAF qualifying competition for the squad in January, Mexico headed into this tournament with high expectations---some even considered the team a dark horse to win the competition.
Mexico's poor showing could prove to be detrimental to those names who were rumored to be moving to Europe soon. A player like Lozano, who has undoubtedly garnered the attention from clubs outside Mexico, no longer has a big stage to shine for those potential suitors.
With the talent that Mexico had, the team should have had some eye opening performances but was instead finished in fourth place in Group D of the U-20 World Cup.
But on a positive note, Mexico's disappointment may turn out to be inconsequential for these players. If a club was indeed following these individuals for quite some time, it is unlikely that a team would refuse to sign a player after an early exit from the U-20 World Cup.
3. Should Mexico fans worry?
The reality of the situation is that most of these players won't be suiting up for the senior team any time soon. In fact, the Bronze Ball winner from the 2011 tournament, Jorge Enriquez, isn't even a guaranteed starter in Liga MX with Chivas.
U-20 World Cups do sometimes predict future talent, like Lionel Messi in 2005, but success in said competitions are sometimes hit-and-miss for the future.
The short answer for Mexico fans is: no. There appears to be an immense amount of youth talent for the country and three bad results under a substandard manager shouldn't mean doom for El Tri's future.
That being said, it's difficult to ignore what could Mexico could have achieved this month. Although the argument could easily be made that El Tri fans shouldn't worry about the future, many will be left wondering about what this U-20 squad could have done under a different leadership.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.