You Got Mud On Your Face...

Big Disgrace.

How's that for a two word summary of Mexico's farcical 1-1 draw with Panama in the Gold Cup that rambled on past midnight (for me at least) owing to brawls, cards, injuries (feigned and otherwise), an incompetent ref, and fan projectiles? I don't know if anybody escapes censure here, be it...
  • The Ref - An absolute joke who let a volatile match get completely away from him. Of the three reds he issued, I'm not sure any of them was warranted. Two players doing a bit a grabbing and shoving as the half comes to a close? Yellows all around and we're good, right? But no, he has to prime the barrel of explosives for the second by issuing a couple of ejections. And Panama's second red? Wouldn't you shove somebody who wasn't even in the damn game if he kicked you? And it's not like there weren't other worthy claims for red...
  • The Players - Claim Mexico is dirty all you like. Go ahead and point to all the shoving and mouthing off after the play, much of it coming from Mexico's supposed "captain," Torrado. I saw a couple of surreptitious haymakers (oxymoronic, me?) that went unpunished to boot. But Panama were not blameless. They were tackling hard, ugly, and often with deliberate intent to provoke. Perez' ridiculous elbow on Ochoa with the ball clearly out of play was more deserving of red than anything else in this match.
  • Aguirre - Go ahead and claim his "raised loafer" (see below) was inadvertent, but Aguirre has been around soccer balls long enough to know that you don't try to trap one rolling on the ground with your foot two feet above the damn ball.
  • The Fans - Brawling. Throwing crap on the field and at the players. Small wonder the whole affair degenerated into Thunderdome.
Lookin' good, CONCACAF...

So was there anything of interest to take from this game?
  • Mexico's pattern of play was suspiciously reminiscent of somebody else in CONCACAF. Ceding possession and looking to play on the counter with quick midfielder/forwards darting into attack. Who does that remind you of? And seriously...Mexico, ceding possession? To Panama? The times, they are a-changin'.
  • Panama certainly look good enough to be in the Hex, but something doesn't smell quite right. Who'd they get bumped by in qualifying? El Salvador? Before the group stage? Ouch. And dropping their Gold Cup opener to Guadeloupe? Hmmm.
  • Guillermo Ochoa rose above the muck. Sure, if you watch much Spanish-language TV in this country, you're probably sick of seeing him in commercials, but he cut a pretty sympathetic figure last night, particularly when he walked the second Panamanian red-cardee off, trying to settle the fans and keep the dude from getting pelted by debris (sadly--fat chance, Memo).
What a mess. This doesn't give you much of the flavor of the occassion, but it does capture Aguirre's kung fu fighting skills and some of Mexico's counterattacking play.


  1. Call me perverse, but I really enjoyed that clusterf**k. I derive a lot of pleasure from watching Mexico implode, though, I suppose if they implode too often it'll take the fun out of it. Maybe. (For instance: I am still enjoying this year's New York quite a bit, even if it is merely a reversion to (awful) form, not a bad year for a generally worthy opponent.)

    I do feel bad for all the classy players on Mexico's team; I used to think that classlessness was an affliction suffered by their whole team, but lately I've noticed that its really only a couple of guys in each game, while other players stand out as class acts (like, as you noted, Ochoa). But its very hard to get anyone to notice your class when your coach is kicking the other team on the sideline.

  2. I also like it when Mexico struggles and teams like Panama manage to frustrate them; but the Aguirre "kick" actually looked like a clumsy attempt to trap the ball by an old guy. He shouldn't have attempted it - he shouldn't even have been standing there - and he did interfere with play; but I give him the benefit of the doubt. He also showed class by saying he was definitely in the wrong and that he owed the Pananmian team an apology. He also did not argue the red card. He just walked off the field as he was told.

    Ochoa also did show some class by acompanying the Panamian player off the field, but did you notice he was not crazy enough to get near the stands (or maybe it was because he can't leave the field without the ref's permission).

  3. I thought Aguirre may have genuinely been going for the ball at first as well, but (1) the ball never leaves the ground and (2) his foot never gets anywhere near the ground. I don't think it's anything he would do in a rational frame of mind, but he got caught up in a match spiraling out of control. There was plenty of irrationality to go around, not the least of which was infecting the ref.

    Good thing Memo Ochoa didn't tempt fate by leaving the field to escort Phillips, the ref might have shown him red too ;-).