Mexico Coaching Change: Should the U.S. Worry?
Jurgen Klinsmann and Clint Dempsey aren't obsessing over Mexico's new coach, Luis Fernando Tena, and they don't think you should be either. Jon Arnold spoke to both about El Tri's interim leader.
BY Jon Arnold PostedCOLUMBUS, Ohio—Jurgen Klinsmann made his debut managing the United States two years ago, facing Mexico in a friendly. He brought in new players, made some style tweaks, and ended up with a 1-1 draw. For Mexico's interim leader, Luis Fernando Tena, the task at hand is quite different. For one, it's unlikely he's anything more than a stopgap measure. He also doesn't have the luxury of bringing in any other players—no matter how badly El Tri supporters wish he could bring in Carlos Vela or Guillermo Ochoa. What he does have is the element of the unknown. Have the players been pining for a Tena takeover? Will they be able to leverage the boost in morale to their advantage? To this, Klinsmann says, "Relax." "We'll see now how his players will adjust. There's always a period of adjustment to another boss, a new boss," Klinsmann said at a news conference Monday. "It's important to us that we look at ourselves and say we expect a very, very difficult and intense game. We are ready for it." International coaching changes are tough to judge. With sporadic match schedules and limited chances to demonstrate quality, or lack thereof, time is generally needed to render a verdict. Tena won't be judged based on a full tenure but instead on this one match. Even with changes at the helm and a poor record in World Cup qualifying, Klinsmann firmly believes his CONCACAF rival will join his team in Brazil. "Even if they have to go through the fourth place, theoretically, they will qualify for the World Cup. Mexico will go to the World Cup," he said. "Now they made that switch, it's tough for Chepo, and Fernando will do the best he can do." In typical fashion, Klinsmann and his players insisted their focus is internal. "I don't know—you gotta ask them," DaMarcus Beasley said of how the Mexican team might view a managerial change. "I don't know how to answer that question because we really don't talk about that," said midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. Bedoya did elaborate on his recent move to Nantes and working with Michel Der Zakarian, but said it was the language barrier he found most difficult about working with his new boss. Clint Dempsey offered a bit more insight. "Any time there's a new coach, players who are playing under the other coach, they're maybe not as comfortable because they know change is coming," he said. "Also, players who weren't playing for the coach before see it as an opportunity to try to get into the team." "Mexico will be a difficult game," Dempsey continued. "They're a team that has a lot of quality. We're going to be prepared for that; we're not going to take them lightly. We need to focus on us and our game." The message from the U.S. is clear. If they dictate the match the way they plan, it won't matter if Sir Alex Ferguson or Sir Elton John on the bench, they'll take three points.
September 10, 2013
September 10, 2013