Exciting Predictions for Mexico Soccer in 2020
In the new year, analysts have made major predictions ranging from the specific — which players to look out for — to the ambitious, thinking about what Mexico’s prestigious soccer teams could offer in the new year. The team’s strong showing and major turnaround in 2019 leads to some promising prospects in the coming year.
A Major Turnaround from 2018
Soccer enthusiasts watching Mexico’s season this past year were likely heartened to see just how thoroughly the team turned around between 2018 and 2019.
At the close of 2018, Mexico’s well-established goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa directly asserted what he felt was lacking from his country’s team in multiple statements to the press after Mexico’s season-ending crushing loss to Argentina.
Ochoa’s comments came after a several-month spell where Mexico’s team didn’t have a coach, as then-coach Carlos Osorio’s contract had expired following the 2018 World Cup. In the meantime, Mexico had had interim coach Ricardo Ferretti.
“The national team right now doesn’t have a path, a direction. We need a coach to come in and bring stability and tranquility and prepare for the immediate future,”
said Ochoa, in a blisteringly honest summation of his team’s performance following the lackluster game.
He continued by comparing Mexico’s team to competing teams across Latin America, saying that, with Mexico’s comparatively small team, they were up against a wall when it came to playing teams from well-stacked countries like Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, or — as demonstrated in that fateful evening — Argentina.
What Changed in 2019?
After Ochoa’s comments about the size of the team in 2018, it’s impressive how much El Tri, Mexico’s Liga MX soccer team, grew in 2019. By years’ end, the team boasted an impressive 53 players and a new manager, Gerardo “Tata” Martino.
Under Martino’s leadership, El Tri was almost undefeated in 2019, save for one draw and one loss. These wins would kick-off 2019 with major successes for Mexico in their games against Chile (3-1) and Paraguay (4-2).
Then came the Gold Cup, the biggest tournament for Mexico in 2019. Though many of the team’s major players were unavailable to play for various reasons — Miguel Layun was being treated for cancer, Javier Hernandez was tending to his newborn son, Hirving Lozano and Jesus Corano were injured — the team kicked off the tournament to a massive start, beating Cuba in a breathtaking 7-0 match.
The winning streak continued as Mexico beat Canada (3-1) and Martinique (3-2). They then faltered with a tie against Costa Rica (1-1) but were saved in the penalty shootout as Ochoa saved the team and nailed their entry to the Gold Cup Semifinal against Haiti, who they then beat 1-0.
The final saw a face-off between Mexico and the US. In a tough game, Mexico reclaimed control and beat the US 1-0, thanks to a long-range goal from Jonathan Dos Santos.
Following the Gold Cup, Mexico closed out the season with a number of wins and just one loss, a surprising 4-0 defeat in a match against Argentina. In total, though, Gerardo Martino’s freshman year spearheading Mexico’s soccer team saw a total of 15 wins, out of 17 matches overall. Not bad!
Players to Watch in 2020 — And Beyond
In a recent article, ESPN made a number of predictions for Mexico’s Liga MX team, pinpointing several of the team’s international players which they believe will be people to watch moving forward.
In this piece, ESPN Mexico correspondent Tom Marshall highlighted seven young Mexico players: Carlos “Charly” Rodriguez, Jose Juan “JJ” Macias, Uriel Antuna, Roberto Alvarado, Jorge Sanchez, Cristian Calderon, and Rodolfo Pizarro. The standouts from this list are Rodriguez, Macias, and Pizarro, all of whom — according to these predictions — will play a crucial role bringing Mexico further in 2020.
Carlos “Charly” Rodriguez and Jose Juan “JJ” Macias (especially the latter) are both relative newcomers in Mexico’s Liga MX team, and both are already showing strength in their roles under Martino’s leadership. 22-year-old Rodriguez, who plays midfield for El Tri, ultimately played in 13 of the team’s international games — more than any other player on the team in 2019! Commentators and Martino alike have noted that Rodriguez plays well beyond his age, demonstrating a “maturity” and “courage” particular to the team’s rising player.
“JJ” Macias is among the younger players highlighted by the 2020 predictions. At just 20 years old, Macias made a name for himself as a forward, particularly as he filled a void left by departing players Oribe Peralta and Alan Pulido. This year, Macias was on loan to Leon’s team from Guadalajara, and managed to snag four goals in his first five international games in 2019. As Macias matures, he’s likely to continue the winning streak, and prove essential to Mexico’s performance in 2020.
Finally, the most seasoned player on the list: Rodolfo Pizarro, 25 years old, an established midfielder for Mexico who has been playing for the country’s team since 2014. According to Martino in a statement last September, if he had to choose a star player for 2019, he would choose Pizarro.
More Ambitious: Predictions for the Decade
Another article featuring Mexico’s stellar team from ESPN offers their predictions for Liga MX not just for the coming year but for the decade.
These predictions include a TV rights deal for clubs across the Liga MX, an inter-league team from MLS and Liga MX, less importance placed on a “Big Four” of heavyweight teams, more investments from international funders and owners, and less limitation on foreign players.
In addition to these general predictions, some specific references are made to Mexico’s teams. Following a major win at the close of 2019, Mexico’s Monterrey team has this analyst predicting that the decade 2020-2030 will continue to see major wins from Monterrey.
These predictions are bolstered by the youth of some of Monterrey’s star players Carlos Rodriguez and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, as well as the youth of their sporting director Duilio Davino and the coach Antonio Mohamed, who has served them well and has no plans to move any time soon.
Another major league from Mexico, Club America, is also predicted to continue demonstrating strength, particularly in beating out Chivas, another Mexico-based league. Club America is based out of Mexico City, and Chivas is based out of Guadalajara. This prediction is not as bold as it sounds: Club America has, in fact, been beating out Chivas since 1970.