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Liga MX 2018 Apertura: What you need to know before kickoff

Liga MX
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Juan Carlos Osorio has to choose: Mexico, U.S. or Europe?

Mexico
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 By Tom Marshall

Juan Carlos Osorio has to choose: Mexico, U.S. or Europe?

Sebi Salazar sounds off on why he can't be proud of Mexico after a seventh straight World Cup exit in the last 16, even against a team like Brazil.
Sebastian Salazar and Herculez Gomez look at Mexico's mental struggle against Brazil, Juan Carlos Osorio's legacy and assessing Brazil going forward.

The debate has already begun in Mexico over whether Juan Carlos Osorio should continue as Mexico manager after the team fell out of the tournament at the round of 16 stage for the seventh consecutive time.

The victory against Germany in El Tri's first group game was rightly heralded as Mexico's best win ever at a World Cup although there was a familiar ending to their competition as the North American side lost 2-0 to Brazil in Samara and failed to reach the "quinto partido."

But Osorio came out of the World Cup largely in credit, especially outside of Mexico. The preparation was arguably Mexico's best-ever and the loss to Brazil didn't come in embarrassing circumstances. In fact, Mexico started the better team, before El Tri wilted and Brazil gradually took over. Overall, it was only the defeat to Sweden in the last Group F game that portrayed Mexico in a negative light.


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While the debate in Mexico tends to center around whether incoming Mexican federation president Yon de Luisa (who has now officially replaced Decio de Maria) will be looking to keep Osorio or not, the Colombian's ambitions may well lie beyond El Tri regardless.

It's no secret that Osorio wants to pit his wits against the very best managers out there, work with players on a daily basis and try his hand in Europe. A club in England, Spain or Germany would likely be at the top of his wish list. The Mexican national team has offered the kind of shop window that his former club Sao Paulo couldn't to complete the 56-year-old's long and difficult path from leaving Colombia in his mid-20s with the ambition of becoming a top manager in one of the very best leagues.

The European (and U.S.) press has been largely kind to Osorio during this World Cup campaign, seeing El Tri's performances in Russia as pulsating and gutsy, especially considering that Mexico has no players currently at what would could be considered elite clubs.

The problem Osorio will likely face if, as expected, his ultimate aim is to manage in Europe, is that there really aren't any club openings at present as teams are already in the midst of their preseasons. Osorio's best option could be to wait and hope that the World Cup, coupled with the groundwork he did in picking the brains of the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Guus Hiddink, Louis van Gaal, Arsene Wenger, Gareth Southgate, Les Ferdinand, Marcelo Bielsa and a host of others over the past 12 months, will help open a door.

Yet waiting would leave Osorio in a tricky situation, with the manager surely also not enthralled by the idea of being without work for too long.

Osorio's mulling his options after Mexico's World Cup exit but this time, he has a variety of possible directions including staying with El Tri.
Osorio's mulling his options after Mexico's World Cup exit but this time, he has a variety of possible directions including staying with El Tri.

The U.S. national team job will also be of interest and Osorio would surely be a strong contender. Interim coach Dave Sarachan's contract has been extended until the end of the year as their search for a new head coach intensifies after the World Cup. Osorio knows the United States, speaks English and has the kind of obsessive work ethic and implementation of ideas that would benefit not only the first team, but the whole system in the United States.

Back in Colombia, Jose Nestor Pekerman didn't want to comment on his future in the immediate aftermath of the penalty shoot-out loss to England in the round of 16 game in Moscow. But with Reinaldo Rueda having taken over the Chile national team last January, Osorio's name could well be top of the list if Pekerman does step to one side.

Then there is the thought of remaining with Mexico. Could De Luisa persuade Osorio to stay on given the negativity he received, the pressure of the job and the fact that Mexico is unlikely to play an official competition outside of CONCACAF for at least a couple of years? Managing a generational change within El Tri is something that Osorio has stated does appeal and the perception of him, even within Mexico, has been mildly boosted at Russia 2018.

If money was the motivating factor, Osorio would probably lean towards Mexico or the United States, but there's probably more to it. "I don't work for my salary, I work for glory," said Osorio back in January.

Osorio won't be short of options if he plays his cards right but it almost certainly won't be easy to negotiate his next step.

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.

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