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Do the U.S. and Mexico care about the Gold Cup anymore?

Gold Cup
Read

Mexico experienced more lows than highs in year of disappointment and failure

Reviewing the Mexico national teams' 2018 is a complicated task. There were historic moments of joy and celebration, but also some disappointing results and abject failures. But what about the overall balance? Here's a review of the year that was:

Highs

Lozano's goal vs. Germany: In terms of a pure adrenaline rush, Hirving Lozano's goal to put Mexico 1-0 up against Germany in the opening match of their World Cup is difficult to top, especially for those inside Luzhniki Stadium. More than 40,000 Mexico fans had spent thousands of dollars to make El Tri's opener feel like a home game, and when Javier Hernandez burst forward and fed Lozano, who cut back onto his right foot and fired past Manuel Neuer, the place exploded. The goal and victory laid down a marker for Mexico that was ultimately impossible to live up to.

Women's Under-17 World Cup: Monica Vergara's "Historicas" provided a positive end to the year by reaching the final of the U17 World Cup in Uruguay, before eventually falling to Spain and finishing runners-up. This was a performance to reinforce the idea that Liga MX Femenil will provide a huge boost to Mexico's women's national teams in coming years.

Winning the Women's Under-20 Championship: Defeating Canada and the United States on the way to winning the U20 title last January in Trinidad & Tobago was another bit of history on the women's side. It was the first time El Tri has won the regional U20 title.

Lows

Not making Women's World Cup: For all the success at youth level, crashing out of World Cup qualifying at the group stage in October was a severe blow to the program. The 2-0 defeat to Panama was a humbling experience and means El Tri will be watching France 2019 from afar.

World Cup loss to Sweden: Mexico looked tired, was out-hustled and out-thought by the Swedes and needed South Korea to supply an unlikely victory over Germany in order for El Tri to make the round of 16. Crucially, Juan Carlos Osorio's side's failure to pick up a point against Sweden meant that Mexico played Brazil instead of Switzerland and for the seventh consecutive World Cup crashed out in its fourth game.

Trip to Argentina: Even putting aside the two 2-0 losses against Argentina, the November jaunt to Cordoba and Mendoza brought the year to an end for the men's national team in demoralizing fashion. Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa criticized the direction of El Tri, Jesus Corona confirmed World Cup bonuses hadn't been received, there were logistical problems and interim coach Ricardo Ferretti's team was flat on the field. It highlighted the need for a new path that incoming coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino should provide once his appointment is confirmed.

Hirving Lozano reacts during Mexico's 4-1 friendly loss to Uruguay.
Mexico experienced more failure than success in 2018.

Men's player of the year

Hirving Lozano: How could it not be Lozano? The 23-year-old is a player on the rise and 2018 was the year he firmly established himself both at PSV Eindhoven and as Mexico's most exciting attacking player. The challenge for Lozano is to continue to improve in 2019 and aim to prove himself in a tougher league than the Eredivisie.

Women's player of year

Jacqueline Ovalle: It's been some year for the 19-year-old: Four goals in three games in the Under-20 World Cup, including the goal of the tournament against Brazil, a goal to help Tigres to the Liga MX Femenil Clausura title in Monterrey's Estadio BBVA Bancomer and a debut with the full national team. Ovalle clearly has the talent to move abroad at some point in the near future and will likely need to do so in order to fulfill her potential.

National team of the year

Under-17s Women's World Cup: Coach Vergara's team was the surprise package of the year, superseding expectations and laying down a marker both internally and on the world stage. There appears to be a generation of young players capable of finally propelling the national team upwards in the world rankings.

Rating for Mexico national teams

4/10: The main two targets for 2018 weren't reached: El Tri failed to get to the World Cup quarterfinal on the men's side and crashed out of women's World Cup qualifying. Successes elsewhere made up slightly for those negatives, but it is very difficult to make the argument that this has been a good year for Mexican national teams.

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