Chile's thrashing for the ages ousts Mexico from Copa America
It's not the biggest surprise in the world that Chile beat Mexico in the Copa America quarterfinals. After all, Chile is one of the best teams in the world, the defending Copa champion and boasts world-class players in its arsenal. That said: 7-0?!
In a thrashing for the ages, La Roja went full-throttle in Santa Clara, Calif., ousting Mexico from Copa America by the most lopsided result in a major competition in El Tri's history. Eduardo Vargas would've tied for the Golden Boot lead for the tournament with his performance Saturday alone, as his four goals led the way (he has six goals in all). Edson Puch added another pair, while Alexis Sanchez chipped in with one as well, and Chile turned in the performance of the summer in either hemisphere, bringing back memories of Germany's 7-1 destruction of Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semifinals.
Chile moves on to the Copa semifinals, where it will face Colombia, while Mexico is sent into a tailspin after seeing its 22-game unbeaten streak (of which 10 came under manager Juan Carlos Osorio) come to a full stop in the harshest possible manner.
Here are three thoughts on a match that will be remembered forever in entirely different ways by the two participants:
Chile was absolutely relentless
This result was no fluke. Chile earned it from the opening whistle, pressing Mexico into submission, and eventually into a lack of will to fight. By the time it was 4-0, Mexico had packed it up and was just hopeful that there'd be no stoppage time (which, out of the referee's mercy, there wasn't). Chile could sense the blood, and it pounced. Every time.
Even when the result was well in hand the likes of Vargas, Sanchez, Puch and Arturo Vidal made every Mexican touch uncomfortable. Chile moved in sync all game, with manager Juan Antonio Pizzi devising the perfect plan to overwhelm Mexico's midfield, stretch its defense thin and step on the throat when opportunity struck.
It's not as if Mexico had not been conceding chances to its opponents before.
Uruguay, even reduced to 10 men, found its opportunities. Jamaica had a host of good chances in the second group match, but put on one of the worst finishing displays you'll ever see. Venezuela, too, found its way through Mexico's back line, which had only conceded twice under Osorio entering Saturday's match.
When Chile carved out its chances, it finished to a lethal degree, and when Mexico threw in the towel, Chile went for more.
As well as Argentina has played in this competition, this was undoubtedly the most comprehensive, one-sided affair of the last two-plus weeks.
What does this mean for Osorio?
How could Mexico be so unprepared? It just played Chile not even three weeks ago, and while pre-competition friendlies do not always translate into tournament play, Chile's style is no hidden secret. No matter the lineup tinkering and choices that Osorio made, he has a ton of explaining to do.
Osorio called it an "embarrassment" in his postmatch comments, and it remains to be seen whether he'll ever make postmatch comments again. Regardless of the 10 matches that preceded this one, Mexico's federation isn't exactly the most forgiving when it comes to its management. In the big picture, Mexico is fine. It's clinched its place in the CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifying hexagonal already–the only nation to do so–and it won last year's Gold Cup and CONCACAF Cup playoff vs. the USA to seize the confederation's berth in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
A 7-0 loss on a grand stage leaves an awfully bad taste, though, especially considering how much respect Mexico desires from South America and how much the aesthetics matter. It's hard to command that with a performance like this in front of what was an essentially sold-out home crowd.
Should Osorio pay the price for one absolutely horrid result after appearing to make strides with El Tri since taking over? That's the question that will be debated in Mexican circles after this one.
Chile's win came at a cost
Chile will bring the utmost confidence into the semifinals, but it'll also be missing its centerpiece. Vidal picked up a needless yellow card, and given the competition's rules that force players who pick up two yellows over the course of the group stage and quarterfinals to miss a game, he'll be out for the semis.
That's brutal for Chile. Vidal is the club's vocal leader, and his relentless nature on the field personifies everything the team is about. The rule is so harsh on players (as the U.S. can attest with its three missing starters for the semifinals) and should be amended. Nevertheless, in a game that Chile dominated, it came at a significant cost.