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Do the U.S. and Mexico care about the Gold Cup anymore?

Gold Cup
 By Tom Marshall

Mexico must give Juan Carlos Osorio time after Chile thrashing in Copa

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- It was an historic and embarrassing loss for Mexico. El Tri fans turned on their own side, cheering the opposition's every pass from the stands at Levi's Stadium.

There's no talking your way out of a 7-0 defeat and, thankfully, coach Juan Carlos Osorio didn't try to. He was humble enough to both apologize to the Mexican people for the loss to Chile on Saturday in the Copa America Centenario and shoulder much of the blame.

"I think I was wrong in everything," said Osorio after the match. "Defensively we were very fragile. It was an extraordinary performance from their players, like [Arturo] Vidal and Alexis [Sanchez]."

The Mexican federation (FMF) is infamous for chopping and changing managers at a whim and, even though Osorio's record is now 9-1-1, there were already calls from media for the Colombian to be kicked out. "Osorio out" was a trending topic on social media in Mexico after the game.

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The critics, however, were starting to circle even before the defeat, with many questioning Osorio's tinkering with line-up; the difficult to understand decisions, such as picking three different goalkeepers for each of the group stage games; and his changes in formation depending on the opposition.

To be fair, a 7-0 defeat in such a manner does demand a step back and a period of reflection. Questions need to be asked about exactly where El Tri and Mexican football is at. The first will surround Osorio's future.

This was a terrible night, but results and performances had been generally encouraging and the players seem to like and support him. It won't be easy for the federation to back him should more poor results follow, but jumping around managers (as El Tri has done as a matter of course) won't solve anything and only make the FMF seems clueless about its direction.

In summary: Osorio must stay. He has a serious vision and direction for the national team and if he can carry the support of the players through this result, he should be allowed to continue his work.

Ahead of the match against Chile, Osorio articulated his respect for former La Roja manager Marcelo Bielsa, but it must be noted that the Argentine wasn't instantly successful with Chile. His methodology took time to be imprinted on the side.

In the almost four years from 2007 that Bielsa was in charge, a firm identity emerged. Jorge Sampaoli and now Juan Antonio Pizzi have reaped the rewards, with Chile winning the Copa America last year and now well set to defend its title in the United States. Chile made the jump from being a decent side to one that can both frighten the biggest international teams in the world and entertain.

Right now, Mexico isn't in too different a situation to that of Chile back then and Osorio will be looking to do something similar. If there was ever a mandate to actually back a manager, the 7-0 defeat was it, as strange as that may sound.

The Colombian will be looking closely at Mexico's Olympic squad to pick out youngsters that can be pruned and fit in with the type of football he wants to play. Osorio will certainly be hoping to see a larger group of Mexicans playing in Europe, although the new 10/8 rule in the Liga MX -- which allows 10 foreign-born players in each matchday squad -- may be a hindrance to that.

The ray of light at the end of a dark night for El Tri has to be that this is rock bottom and is a wake-up call.

Mexico isn't as bad as the result suggests, but isn't as good as some began to think it was. El Tri has been remarkably consistent over the years, reaching the round of 16 at the last six World Cups.

A World Cup contender like Chile highlighted that Mexico still has a way to go. Once again, in the fourth game of a major competition -- leaving aside the Gold Cup -- El Tri fell short. While there is a group of players that can compete at the highest level, it was obvious against Chile that Mexico is sorely lacking the very top performers like Sanchez and Vidal.

All that takes time and Mexico is at the start of a process Chile began almost 10 years ago. The most important thing right now is for the Mexican federation to not make any rash decisions and carefully articulate the path forward with the humility required after such an embarrassing loss.

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.


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