Mexico head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has admitted that Mexico as a team and as individual players are ahead of the USMNT.
Ahead of their ‘friendly’ at MetLife Stadium on Friday, Tata was asked about USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter saying that Mexico are “slightly ahead” of the U.S. national team due to recent results.
“I think that as a general panorama, our players are competing in leagues that are better than the players in the United States national team and I also think that the Mexican league is above MLS,” Martino told reporters. “Which means it’s very probable that [Berhalter] is right and that from his position he sees the Mexican national team as a little bit better than the U.S. in a general context.”
That sound you can hear is the former Atlanta United head coach stirring the pot, but he did it in a respectful manner.
Martino also suggested that the USMNT’s best young talents have to keep heading to Europe in order for them to be successful, while Mexico’s young stars should also do the same thing.
“The United States has transformed into a country that exports a lot of young players to Europe,” Martino said. “Evidently the development of those players will bear fruits in the future for the United States national team. That doesn’t mean we don’t have the same possibility. I think we have some young players, and others that are already there, that could go to Europe soon and that would be beneficial for us.”
There is quite a lot to unpack here and although Tata is being respectful, he is also clearly saying that Mexico’s players are better than those in the USMNT and that MLS is not a good breeding ground for youngsters.
Can we argue with him on those points?
The fact that Martino beat the USMNT in the Gold Cup final this summer with his second-string side suggests that El Tri are way ahead of the USA. Only John Brooks was missing for the USMNT in the Gold Cup this summer and it is clear Mexico’s squad depth is vastly superior to the USMNT.
With Hirving Lozano, Javier Hernandez, Miguel Layun, Jesus Corona and Hector Herrera all returning to Mexico’s squad for this friendly, the USMNT will have to cope with Mexico’s first-choice lineup on Friday and it could get ugly.
When it comes to MLS v. Liga MX, Martino has now had a chance to weight up both competitions and due to the CONCACAF Champions League success of Liga MX sides we all know that MLS has a lot of catching up to do on that score. That said, MLS academies have produced the likes of Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, with plenty of others now starting to come through and head to Europe at a young age.
And when it comes to players in Europe, Christian Pulisic is flying the American flag at Chelsea, but Mexican players are now at Napoli (Lozano), Sevilla (Hernandez), Porto (Corona), Atletico Madrid (Herrera) and are generally at the next tier up in terms of their club teams.
Martino is basically respectfully telling the truth about where Mexican and U.S. soccer is at right now.
Sometimes, at least for U.S. Soccer fans, the truth hurts.