Ecuador's Christian Noboa (#6) and Efrain Velarde battle for the ball during their Copa America match on June 19, 2015, in Rancagua, Chile. (Photo: ca2015.com)
RANCAGUA, Chile -- He leaned on a railing with his forearms perched on top of the railing that divided part of the stands at the Estadio El Teniente. Miguel Herrera watched as Mexico’s involvement in the 2015 Copa America came to an end Friday.
The head coach stared at the field from a distance after being shown a red card during a 2-1 loss to Ecuador, sending El Tri home from the South American tournament winless in three outings (0W-2D-1L, 2 points).
“We need to accept the failure,” Herrera said during the post-match news conference. “We knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy game. We didn’t understand the magnitude of what we were playing for. We needed to be more energetic. They played all their cards up front. I am aware that we didn’t do things well and that we failed.”
With Mexico taking part in both the Copa America and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Herrera created a distinct roster for each competition. Though the side that traveled to Chile was widely considered to be a “B” selection, he initially believed it could contend for a title.
That proved not to be the case, but the 47-year-old did not entertain excuses.
“It’s over,” Herrera remarked. “If we lacked preparation time or not, we weren’t here to think about that. We didn’t understand why we came to this tournament and we hesitated in getting into it. We were only into it in one game in which we played man-to-man against a team (Chile) which will be one of the top teams in the tournament. It was the only team that fired us up. It wasn’t a game in which we dominated. We had a great game, contained our rival and we were convincing.”
Herrera realized that the fans’ expectations were high for a team that now has not won in its last six Copa America outings.
“I am responsible for the national team,” expressed the former Atlante defender. “I am the one who put it together. It’s normal that they (the fans) are upset. We aspired to much more. Each day the demands in Mexico are bigger and we take responsibility.”
With the Gold Cup quickly approaching, there will be little time to lament the Copa America campaign. The Tricolor has friendlies scheduled against Costa Rica (June 27 in Orlando) and Honduras (July 1 in Houston).
“We will try and win the upcoming tournament so that people are calmer and happier,” Herrera finished. “We need to keep working in order to get the results we want so that we can continue to try and get to Russia.”
A place in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, however, can only be secured after traveling a long road. Mexico will have to win its seventh Gold Cup title and then beat 2013 champion United States in a playoff.
It all starts on July 9 against Cuba at Soldier Field in Chicago.