Losing to your arch-rivals is never a pleasant experience. Just ask Mexico, who once again returned home empty-handed after a trip north to face neighbours USA. Wednesday's 2-0 defeat represents a major blow to everyone concerned with El Tricolor, and had the players, coaching staff and journalists shaking their heads in disappointment.
"Same Old Story" ran the headline in the Thursday edition of El Universal in reference to Mexico's third consecutive reverse in Columbus. The sombre tone continued in the report beneath: "El Tri slump against the United States and the outlook is bleak," with the report concluding, "The team came up short yet again as USA continue their dominance by making a winning start to their World Cup qualification bid."
The website MedioTiempo.com was in equally despondent mood as it digested the news. "Defeat, Rafa off and the same lack of response," it headlined, underlining the importance of captain Rafael Marquez's dismissal. "Mexico fans were full of hope before the game," continued the article, "but it all went wrong on a bad night for the men in green."
Mexican daily Milenio was scathing in its assessment: "Seven minutes of grit, fight and even a little bit of football. But that was it. Seven minutes of wonder and 83 of horror from a team completely overrun by their opponents, who continue to get better with every passing day." For its part, the newspaper Esto had this to say about the setback in the States: "El Tri trip up again."
Shouldering the blame
Despite the result and the general mood of gloom, Mexico coach Sven Goran Eriksson was in optimistic mood afterwards. "It was the best away game we've played since I took over," maintained the Swede. "I think we played just as strongly as United States. Unfortunately, whenever we had chances to score - and we had just as many, if not more than them - we couldn't put them away."
Meanwhile, Marquez made a public apology for his sending off. "I've already said sorry to my team-mates, the coaching staff and the FA officials, and now I want to apologise to all the fans, to my country and the press for my performance today," commented the crestfallen captain. "I was driven to do it by my temperament, my will to win and my feeling of powerlessness."
Team-mate Oswaldo Sanchez was equally forthright in expressing his feelings afterwards. "We're genuinely sorry for all the people of Mexico," he said. "I can honestly tell you that this defeat hurts us more than anyone. I wish we knew the reasons why we keep on losing in America. We felt good today, but bad luck conspired against us at the end of each half."
While expressing his regret at the result, Justino Compean, the President of the Mexican FA, said he was convinced the national side was on the right track and would still take its place at South Africa 2010. "We said we'd get to South Africa and we'll make it. And, naturally, Eriksson has our complete backing."