Chicharito Devastated by Final Defeat, Chicago Fire Winless Streak Continues, and Two Coaches Take Different Paths
A weekly recap of how Mexican internationals fared over the weekend.
Two Mexican coaches taking divergent paths continued to go in different directions this past weekend.
Javier Aguirre decided to renew his contract with Real Zaragoza, after steering the Spanish La Liga club away from the relegation zone and the Segunda Division. His contract through the 2011-2012 season, with an option for another year.
Carlos de los Cobos‘ tenure with the Chicago Fire, however, wasn‘t as solid as the team extended its Major League Soccer winless streak to nine games after a 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.
Aguirre, 52, has a history of taking over teams midway through a campaign and resuscitating them. In fact, he accomplished that not once, but twice with the Mexican National Team during qualifying for the 2002 and 2010 World Cups. He inherited teams in crisis and guided them into soccer's promised land.
Before he succeeded the fired Jose Aurelio Gay as coach on Nov. 18, Zaragoza (1-6-4), then in last place, had accrued only seven points in 11 games. Under Aguirre's guidance, the team went 11-11-5 and amassed 38 points in 27 games while finishing 13th out of 20 teams.
Aguirre won't have much time to enjoy a well-deserved rest. Real players are scheduled to return to pre-season training on July 11.
You have to wonder if de los Cobos, a former Mexican international will be around by then the way the Fire is going. Chicago (1-4-6, nine points) is in eighth place in the nine-team Eastern Conference (tied for the second worst record in the league), ahead of only Sporting Kansas City, which has its own woes to worry about.
The Fire entered the Earthquakes' encounter on a high note, after overcoming a two-goal deficit in the second half in San Jose in a Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup qualifier to win via a shootout Wednesday.
"It was important to motivate the team, the players," de los Cobos was quoted by the Chicago Tribune. "Winning gives us more confidence for Saturday and the beginning of a good moment.
"The team's attitude has been good. I have nothing to complain about the players. Everybody's fighting and working."
That confidence, however, did not last very long. In Saturday’s rematch in Bridgeview, Ill., the Fire could only muster a 2-2 draw.
“We’re living the same situation every week,” de los Cobos said. “We are not staying focused in some important moments of the game.”
He later added: "Like in all games, we’re a team that doesn’t have balance. We’re one of the best teams at scoring goals, but we also receive a lot of goals. When this happens, it’s hard to win."
The Fire hasn't won an MLS match since March 26, a 3-2 victory over Kansas City, and you have to wonder how secure de los Cobos’ future is. He entered the season already on thin ice. In 2010, he took over the coaching reins of a perennial playoff team, yet the Fire (9-12-9, 36) and failed to reach the post-season for the first time since 2004 and only the second time in the club's 14-year history.
You also have to wonder how patient the Fire management will be with the lack of wins. The fans are certainly getting impatient. The Fire attracted a crowd of only 11,926 at Toyota Park last Saturday. Chicago hosts the Seattle Sounders FC.
Chicharito devastated by final defeat
Javier Hernández admitted he was devastated by Manchester United's 3-1 loss to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final. Many observers expected Chicharito to play a vital role for United at Wembley on Saturday, Hernández had a relatively quiet night.
"The defeat obviously hurts," he told reporters. "Now I have nothing to celebrate, nothing to shout about. I'm hurt - these losses always hurt, even more so in a final."
The 22-year-old Hernández praised Barcelona, which has won the title three times in the past six years, and of course, the fabulous Lionel Messi.
"Barcelona won the match well - they were better than us," he said. "They're the best football team in the world. I'm not surprised by him. He's the best in the world, and he's done what he does best."
His United teammates' season might be over, but Hernández still has another month to showcase his skills and talent -- at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States from June 5-25.
Jonathan dos Santos
Dos Santos helped third-place Barcelona B to a 5-1 rout over UD Salamanca in Spain's Segunda Division. Barca next plays at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
In his second game back after missing several weeks with a hernia injury, Bravo failed to score for Kansas City in its 1-1 road tie at the MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids. The designated player's best scoring opportunity came in the 47th minute, With his back to the goal, midfielder Graham Zusi sent a pass behind the defense to Bravo, but his 10-yard shot was saved by goalkeeper Matt Pickens. Bravo was yellow-carded for unsporting behavior in the 84th minute. KC (1-6-2, five), which snapped a five-game losing streak, has been forced to play its opening 10 games of the season while its new stadium is being completed. Sporting has one more road game -- at beleaguered FC Toronto on Saturday.
Marquez, who strained his groin during pre-game warm-ups in the New York Red Bulls' 2-2 draw at the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, May 21, could not play in what was supposed to be his last game prior to the Gold Cup on Wednesday.. The Red Bulls played the visiting Rapids to a 2-2 draw. Marquez joined the Mexican team after the game.
Francisco Mendoza, Mariano Trujillo
Mendoza came off the bench to replace Alejandro Moreno to help preserve Chivas USA's 3-3 draw at the Columbus Crew on Saturday night. Trujillo did not play. Chivas hosts both expansion teams this week -- the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday and the Portland Timbers on Saturday.
Ruben Luna, Bryan Leyva and Richard Sanchez
Luna, forward, did not get off the bench for FC Dallas in its 2-2 tie with the Houston Dynamo. Levya, a midfielder, and Sanchez, a goalkeeper, did not dress. Dallas hosts the New England Revolution on Saturday.
Michael Lewis, who has covered international soccer for three decades, is a frequent contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at SoccerWriter516@aol.com.
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