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Liga MX cancels Clausura season; Cruz Azul, Leon into Champions League

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Liga MX announced the cancelation of their Clausura season Friday, advancing the top two teams into the CONCACAF Champions League.

Mexico’s Clausura season traditionally runs from January to May, and had run 10 matchweeks before the coronavirus pause.

CCL qualifiers Cruz Azul led the table with 22 points and Club Leon was second with 21. Santos Laguna and Club America were both four points back of Leon.

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“It’s undisputed that we are living in unprecedented times in our country, which forces the soccer industry in Mexico to act with absolute reason and respond with unity to the requirements that have been presented to us,” said a statement.

Earlier this Spring, Liga MX canceled promotion and relegation for the next five years. The league also announced that it had joined MLS in canceling three big joint events this summer.

The Apertura season generally runs from late July to early December, and the 2020-21 season begins with the Apertura. Some reports have indicated that Liga MX plans to open the season as planned if there are no changes in government protocol.

Reports: Mexico meets with Marseille coach Bielsa; Is this El Tri’s next boss?

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The continued wooing of Marcelo Bielsa by the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) may be working, as multiple reports say the Argentine coach has requested dossiers and video on Mexican players.

Bielsa, one of Pep Guardiola’s biggest influences, is currently the Marseille manager and considered the front-runner to take El Tri’s reigns from recently-fired coach Miguel Herrera.

L’Equipe says FMF representatives met with Bielsa’s people on Tuesday morning and France, and that Bielsa is interested.

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The 60-year-old former defender led Chile into the knockout rounds of the 2010 World Cup, where they were sent home by Brazil.

His other national team experience came with Argentina between 1998-2004, where he won 62 percent of his games but failed to get out of the group stages of the 2002 World Cup behind Sweden and England.

He managed at Club Atlas and Club America in Mexico during the 1990s, so he’s familiar with the culture. But would he leave Marseille a year early?

Mexico post-Herrera: Few answers, many questions as El Tri moves forward

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Fifteen; By the time El Tri president Decio de Maria (right) names a successor to Miguel Herrera, there will have been at least 13 full-time and two caretaker managers of the Mexico men’s national team since 2000.

That number could be higher if Mexico names an interim boss. Given their track record, they might name two, as the Federation of Mexican Football has proven itself capable of just about anything.

There’s a good chance Herrera deserved to be out-of-work or at least suspended for a long while if the stories that he attacked TV Azteca journalist Christian Martinoli are true. But there also seems something potentially fishy about the firing, as the bombastic coach has been canned less than a year after he nearly led Mexico to a knockout round upset of the Netherlands (And what if Arjen Robben hadn’t hit the deck in stoppage time?)

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Herrera’s 2015 saw El Tri post seven wins, seven draws and three losses. Those wins include the 3-1 win over Jamaica in the Gold Cup final, while the losses include the 2-1 decision against Ecuador that cost them the knockout stages of the Copa America in Chile (Mexico also drew Bolivia and Chile in finishing last in Group A).

He took over on Oct. 18, 2013, days after Mexico’s World Cup hopes were kept alive by the USMNT’s Graham “San” Zusi. Mexico’s “Hex” finished with just a pair of wins and a stretch run of three losses in four games. El Tri was a mess.

In came Herrera, who oversaw a dismantling of New Zealand in the intercontinental World Cup playoff. That got him the job through the 2014 World Cup, and he built the squad back into fine form before the tournament. There were wins over South Kore and Ecuador, plus a 3-2 win in the Netherlands.

And Mexico made it through Group A of the World Cup, drawing Brazil and beating both Cameroon and Croatia. Herrera’s bunch made life very hard on the Netherlands in the knockout rounds, leading 1-0 until the 88th minute falling 2-1.

All said and done, Herrera lost just 7 of his 36 matches in charge of El Tri, but the FMF was ready for him to go. Many fans joined the fray after this iffy Gold Cup win (which was still a win).

So what now? Who takes over the ship, one in which the majority of the hands reportedly liked playing for Herrera? From a Gold Cup victory, controversial or not, comes a decision that seems to pin its hopes on a batch of players who would hope to impress a new boss.

It’s similar to what happened before the New Zealand matches, only that change came from tremendous failings. This comes from an airport fight, one that the players will seemingly know all about as first-hand witnesses and second-hand peers. Mexico, like the United States, holds its national team to otherworldly and likely unrealistic standards. Is a new name really going to push the right buttons quickly to fix it, or will it just beget another new name?

This new boss will be making critical roster decisions for a group of players aching for the chance to be in the squad. Will the new boss be okay with his players participating in MLS, as Herrera was, or will he look down on Erick “Cubo” Torres and Giovani dos Santos? Will he be inclined to stick with the Gold Cup winners, or drastically shake things up? Can cohesion occur under this new boss than the USMNT under Jurgen Klinsmann after a disappointing Yanks’ Gold Cup run?

Mexico could go to the same domestic Liga MX well that drew out Herrera — Pedro Caixinha has produced several El Tri players from Santos Laguna, and the same can be said for Pachuca boss Diego Alonso — or they could go foreign. Another option will be international veteran, and could fired Portugal boss Paulo Bento fit the bill? Here’s a total wild card: David Moyes, who coaches Carlos Vela and Diego Reyes and Real Sociedad.

In any event, the who question is almost less important than the how long, as in, “How long until the powers-that-be get tired of the new guy?” Whether Herrera punched Martinoli in the neck or not, Mexico’s status quo is change. Consistency continues to elude the CONCACAF power, and this time it could cost them a major tournament.

After day of speculation, de la Torre keeps his job with Mexico

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If you checked in to social media this morning, you would have assumed Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre had been fired as Mexican national team coach. And when ESPN Deportes was briefly broadcasting Tomas Boy’s appointment as interim coach across their bottom third, you would have had confirmation. Yet throughout the day, there was a lively debate as to whether the initial reports were accurate, with some of the vast array of reporters beneath the Deportes umbrella issuing conflicting reports on Twitter – an editorial process implicitly erupting into the digital universe.

This evening, however, the Mexican Federation put all speculation to rest, confirming in a somewhat bizarre press conference that de le Torre is and will remain the coach.

The official word from the Federation’s website, which described the session the federation’s president and technical director held late Monday:

“This afternoon, after a meeting with Mexican soccer’s Sports Development Committee, the President of the Mexican Football Federation confirmed for the media the retention of Jose Manuel de la Torre as head coach of the Mexican national team.”

The man who led the session, president Justino Campeón, went on to describe meetings that were held between the national team director (Hector González Iñarritu), de la Torre, and de la Torre’s staff, conversations prompted by Mexico’s Gold Cup performance and the team’s inability to advance at the Confederations Cup.  Only after those meetings did the development committee some to the conclusion to retain de la Torre.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t some stern words for Mexico’s coach. Iñarritu acknowledged the team is currently in a “difficult state” and the summer’s “objectives were not achieved.” Campeón went on to note the decision does “not at all justify the situation we are in,” and there’s “no excuse” for the team’s state.

That’s not the most ringing endorsement. In fact, Campeón went on to acknowledge de la Torre’s failure when calling this “a second chance,” saying the coach’s integrity and professionalism had earned it. At the same time, Campeón declined to say whether de la Torre would be judged on the Sept. 6 qualifier against Honduras, instead noting he sees de la Torre’s job in terms of 10 games (the entire final round of qualifying) instead of one.

It was a surreal way to end a surreal day. At one point this morning, de la Torre was proclaimed fired by a major cable channel. By the end of the day, the president of the FMF was speaking to reporters, and not with the typical overcooked bravado we’re used to seeing in empty votes of confidence. This was not a vote of confidence at all; rather, it was a honest reflection of where Mexico stands.

The main problems is many Tri fans won’t agree. For each person you find that feels Chepo deserves more time or the time isn’t available to switch mid-stream, you’ll find at least one person that thinks de la Torre’s current failures are enough, be they in World Cup Qualifying, the Confederations Cup, or the Gold Cup.

Now Chepo gets the chance to prove one group wrong.