World Cup: Another tough lesson for Mexico in loss to Dutch
Nestor de la Torre, director of national teams for the Mexican soccer federation, believes you can learn more from losing than from winning. Especially when you're losing to some of the best teams in the world.
"You can draw conclusions and perfect the things the coaching staff wants," he said. "It's another style of soccer, more dynamic and fast."
Add an unseasonable Black Forest chill and a rain that fell heavily throughout much of the first half and you have the miserable conditions Mexico faced in its most educational game to date, one that ended with a 2-1 loss to the Netherlands on Wednesday in Freiburg, Germany.
Robin van Persie netted both goals for the Netherlands in the first half while Javier Hernandez's header late in the second half accounted for Mexico's only score.
Although hundreds of die-hard green-shirted fans in the largely pro-Mexico crowd braved both the rain and their own renditions of "Cielito Lindo," El Tri was unable to give them much to cheer for in the opening 45 minutes, falling behind quickly on a pretty goal in the 17th minute. Captain Rafael van der Vaart set up the score with a bending crossing pass that kissed the grass a foot in front of Van Persie, who was alone on the right side near the edge of the box. From there a leaping Van Persie got his right foot on the ball, redirecting it past goalkeeper Memo Ochoa, who suffered through a cold, wet and shaky night
Ibrahim Afellay set up Van Persie again just before the half, collecting the ball at midfield and making a short dash up the right side before booming a high kick that traveled more than 30 yards through the air before once again bouncing a step in front of Van Persie, this time to Ochoa's right. And once again all the Arsenal striker needed was the tip of his boot to volley the ball into the net.
Mexican Coach Javier Aguirre, whose offense was kept bottled up for much of the first half, made some impressive adjustments at the intermission and they nearly helped his team steal the win. They did lead to a goal in the 75th minute, with Jorge Torres Nilo placing a nice pass high and to the left of Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg -- in perfect position for Hernandez to head it into the goal for his first score in more than two months.
If Mexico's offense was kept under wraps in the first half, it had the run of the field in the second 45 minutes with Stekelenburg only barely managing to get a hand on a Pablo Barrera shot in the 57th minute, then twice frustrating Giovani Dos Santos on good scoring chances.
In the end, however, it was once again too little and too late for Mexico, this loss coming just two days after a 3-1 setback to England in stifling heat in London. Mexico's European tour continues Sunday against Gambia, an African team that plays in yet another dramatically different style -- offering yet another learning experience.
-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from Freiburg, Germany
Photo: Netherland's Robin van Persie. Credit: Frank Augstein / Associated Press.