Mexico’s Gold Cup hopes now relaxation on Jimmy ‘El Actor’ Lozano


It is becoming that Mexican soccer’s newest telenovela-like drama is meant to be resolved by a coach who’s typically known as “El Actor.”

Born to entertainer dad and mom (therefore his nickname), Jaime Lozano did not search the identical limelight his mom and father occupied. As an alternative, soccer got here calling via a profession as a participant and supervisor, however after a current disaster arose within the distance from Mexico‘s males’s nationwide group, the coach who usually goes just by “Jimmy” now finds himself as an sudden main man.

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His new marquee function: Reviving the nationwide group as interim supervisor within the Concacaf Gold Cup.

Following a irritating third-place end within the Concacaf Nations League final week, which included a bleak 3-0 loss to their United States rivals within the semifinal, Mexico dropped Diego Cocca as coach on Monday after just some months in cost. Scrambling to discover a answer earlier than the beginning of the Gold Cup this weekend, the Mexican Soccer Federation (FMF) appointed Lozano as interim for the match.

Determined for achievement after a discouraging 2022 World Cup and only one title in all competitions since 2016, Mexico will now place all of their hopes on the shoulders of their 44-year-old hiring. Will the script work for El Tri, or will it show to be one other main field workplace flop?

How Mexico bought right here

Earlier than we focus on Lozano and the Gold Cup, let’s first assess the prequel.

Up to now few years, progress for Mexican soccer has stalled on a number of ranges. The senior males’s group, who stumbled out of the group stage of Qatar 2022, have didn’t clinch a title up to now two editions of the Nations League and the earlier version of the Gold Cup. Wanting on the males’s youth aspect, the U20 squad didn’t qualify for the 2023 U20 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. As for the ladies’s senior nationwide group, they fell brief in qualifying for the upcoming Girls’s World Cup and subsequent yr’s Olympics.

An extended checklist of staffing modifications on the FMF adopted since final summer time and by February, Cocca was chosen as the brand new coach for the lads’s senior group. Characterised by his cautious fashion of play that prioritized outcomes by any means, there have been fast doubts concerning the Argentine supervisor, who did not use essentially the most engaging strategies of enjoying soccer.

Unconvincing performances and slim outcomes emerged, as did new bosses for Cocca with extra FMF staffing modifications this spring, resulting in scrutiny of his 2W-3D-0L document forward of this month’s Nations League knockout spherical. Though his group defeated Panama 1-0 in final Sunday’s third-place match, the depressing 3-0 loss to the U.S. within the previous semifinal was sufficient to solidify his destiny. By Monday, new FMF commissioner Juan Carlos Rodriguez made it official.

“This part has been flawed by the dysfunction in decision-making, by the dearth of processes, rigor and transparency in appointments, and by an ideal storm within the dangerous habits that we have been dragging for therefore a few years,” Rodriguez stated.

“The pure factor to do could be to attend for the tip of the Gold Cup, however at the moment we do not have time to waste. So I inform you that I’ve made the choice to terminate the contract of Diego Martin Cocca and the members of his teaching workers.”

Cocca, flanked by media after his flight again to Mexico Metropolis, appeared perplexed by the choice.

“I did all the pieces I might they usually did not let me proceed,” the coach stated as he walked via the airport.

Who’s Lozano and what can we count on from him

With Cocca out of the image, is Lozano now the mild-mannered however youthful hero that El Tri want? A former left-back who has represented the Mexican nationwide group and a handful of Liga MX golf equipment, Lozano shortly developed from an academy coach and assistant into finally the coach of Queretaro by 2017.

An opportunity with Mexico’s youth nationwide group then arrived in 2018, which is when his star would really rise. Lozano and El Tri‘s youth groups would go on to complete third within the 2019 Pan American Video games, as winners of the 2020 Concacaf males’s Olympic qualifying title, and later as bronze medalists at Tokyo 2020. Regardless of a combined bag of outcomes on the membership degree with Queretaro and later with Necaxa in 2022, the up-and-coming coach is extensively seen as one of many extra promising managers in Mexican soccer.

That, coupled along with his expertise with most of the former youth nationwide group gamers who at the moment are senior gamers, is what led to his appointment.

“I thanks for agreeing to steer the group from now to the tip of this [Gold Cup] match, the gamers know you and love you effectively, Jaime,” Rodriguez stated on Monday. “Thanks, Jimmy, to you and your workers, for coming to assist Mexico within the midst of this disaster.”

From the 23 gamers included within the Gold Cup roster, which dropped Alexis Vega because of damage and changed him with Roberto Alvarado on Tuesday, Lozano thrived within the 2020 Olympics with a powerful core of 10 present call-ups: Guillermo Ochoa, Jorge Sanchez, Cesar Montes, Johan Vasquez, Luis Romo, Carlos Rodriguez, Sebastian Cordova, Henry Martin, Uriel Antuna and Alvarado. In reality, that quantity could be at 11 if not for Vega’s damage.

Assuming he’ll go along with the sport plan seen in Tokyo 2020, we’ll see a 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3 formation that focuses on a counter-pressing fashion. As an alternative of profitable by any means like Cocca, Lozano will need to be extra on the entrance foot and take cost within the opposition’s finish of the pitch. Set items will likely be key, and so will a willingness to let his central midfielders roam from their positions.

Within the assault, he tends to provide freedom for his wingers to seek for and tackle 1v1 conditions. If there’s an excessive amount of of a defensive overload, he’ll most likely intention to quickly change the ball via lengthy passes or his roaming midfielders. Defensively, he’ll seemingly ask his wingers to assist regain possession and sit again when wanted. Relying on the opponent, his fullbacks additionally tend to be extra reserved, as a way to assist compensate for the creativity allowed for the midfielders and wingers.

However that is all in concept from what he has performed up to now on the youth nationwide group degree.

On paper, Mexico needs to be at the very least extra enjoyable to observe than the extra conservative setup underneath Cocca, however whether or not or not it can work instantly is one other dialog.

Can Mexico earn Gold Cup glory?

That’s, in fact, the massive query.

Regardless of the truth that Lozano has simply 4 days to arrange earlier than Sunday’s group opener towards Honduras in Houston, the naked minimal for Mexico will likely be profitable the Gold Cup. Whereas that will not be straightforward for an El Tri aspect that has retreated from its former standing as the large within the area, the nationwide group setup may have no excuses when you think about that fellow title contenders similar to Canada and the U.S. are sending MLS-heavy “B” groups to the match.

Regardless that the roster is out of shape — and lacking some key injured gamers like Jesus “Tecatito” Corona and Hirving “Chucky” Lozano (no relation) — man for man, Mexico needs to be the superior group within the Gold Cup.

Ought to is necessary to emphasise there. Lozano has the know-how and squad to get the job performed, however the apparent issue of restricted time to arrange is one that may’t be ignored.

Wanting forward, the group stage needs to be an fascinating intestine test to see the place precisely the group is at. After enjoying Honduras this weekend, El Tri will then face Haiti on June 30 earlier than closing out the group stage towards match invitee Qatar on July 2.

Greater than seemingly, Mexico are anticipated to qualify for the knockout spherical, the place they may have a possibility to regain respect within the area and a title, however after a few of the points seen within the Nations League, there’s an opportunity that final week was only the start of a really lengthy summer time.

No matter occurs, it will make for some intriguing fútbol cinema.


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