While the result of the match didn’t much matter for Mexico with their place in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying already assured, their 0-0 draw with Honduras brought the biggest issue El Tri face into the spotlight: their own manager, Juan Carlos Osorio.
Osorio hasn’t done a bad job with Mexico by any means, going undefeated in the just-completed fourth round of qualifying and winning five of the six matches. Mexico impressed against Uruguay at Copa América, but have looked progressively worse since then, culminating in Tuesday’s bitterly disappointing draw at home in the Estadio Azteca. Now his job security is in serious doubt less than a year after being hired, and it would be hard to argue if El Tri does decide to part ways with the Colombian manager. After a 7-0 loss to Chile, he doesn't exactly have the benefit of the doubt.
Mexico's performance against Honduras didn't reflect well on their coach. Time after time, the players seemed to be uncertain of where to be or what to do, like they hadn’t been properly prepared for what they would be facing. Now, Honduras can be a tough team to face, but we just saw Mexico doing the same thing against El Salvador a few days ago, looking lost and flat in the first half before finding their spark in the second to get a 3-1 win.
This time, though, that spark was utterly absent, and Mexico could find no answers for Honduras. Even the handful of clear chances they could create went for naught thanks to poor finishing, and "Fire Osorio" chants from the crowd could be clearly heard throughout the second half.
Now, you could make a perfectly legitimate argument that Osorio shouldn’t be fired over a match that didn’t matter. Mexico were already qualified for the Hex, after all, and it didn’t matter what happened against Honduras. But there’s a difference between a poor performance in a pressure-free match and looking utterly unprepared, and Mexico looked unprepared — something much worse and not something that can be easily forgiven.
Prominent media personalities in Mexico are already calling for Osorio to be fired, and given Mexico’s history of being quick on the trigger in such situations, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them give in to those demands. It might be harsh considering El Tri’s initial success under Osorio, but given the precipitous decline in their form and the pre-existing concerns over Osorio’s quality as a manager at this level given his history of mediocrity, Mexico moving on would certainly be understandable.
Of course, there’s another problem that will rear its head should Osorio be fired: the question of who to replace him with. Over the last decade, Mexico’s top job has been a revolving door of political picks and hirings made because El Tri had to settle for someone less than they wanted — just like when they hired Osorio, who was the best of an underwhelming group of candidates.
The bigger issue is that Mexico has been impatient with some of the best coaches from Liga MX when they've gotten a chance. Tuca Ferretti? Quietly let go after only two highly successful matches as interim manager. Victor Manuel Vucetich? Gracelessly terminated after two matches for "underperforming" — despite taking over a complete mess of a team, winning one of his two matches, and losing closely to a good Costa Rica team.
With that recent history looming large, it’s going to be difficult at best to attract a clearly superior manager, which could make firing Osorio a little harder to justify to some. But something clearly isn’t working between Osorio and the El Tri squad, and for the good of their future success, it’s probably time for Mexico to move on and find someone who works better with the players.