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Mexico's soccer coach says he's been fired

October 17, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Victor Manuel Vucetich told ESPN Deportes on Thursday that he is out as Mexico's national soccer team coach.
Victor Manuel Vucetich told ESPN Deportes on Thursday that he is out as Mexico's… (Ezequiel Becerra / Getty…)

Two days after saving Mexico's World Cup qualifying campaign, Victor Manuel Vucetich told ESPN Deportes he was fired Thursday as coach of the country's national soccer team.

"They've informed me that I'm out of the national team job," said Vucetich, who earned the nickname King Midas for his penchant for turning around struggling teams in Mexico's domestic leagues.

"I'm King Midas, not God," he told ESPN. "That is why we are where we are."

Mexico's national soccer federation has not announced a replacement, but numerous media reports say the new coach is expected to be Club America's Miguel Herrera, who will become the team's fourth manager in six weeks.

Vucetich's tenure as coach lasted just two matches -- or one match longer than the man he succeeded. But they were pivotal games with Mexico rallying to beat Panama, 2-1, last Friday to jump over the Central Americans into fourth place in the CONCACAF qualifying table. And when Panama lost to the U.S. in its final World Cup qualifier last Tuesday, that sent Mexico on to a two-leg playoff with New Zealand for a final berth in next summer's World Cup in Brazil.

For the time being that allowed Mexico to avoid the embarrassment of missing the World Cup for the first time since 1990. But with Thursday's decision to fire Vucetich, what has been a dismal and disappointing year for Mexican soccer took another odd turn.

Mexico was perfect in the third round of qualifying under Coach Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre. But El Tri struggled this season, winning just one of its seven World Cup qualifers, getting eliminated in group play in June's Confederations Cup, then losing to Panama in the semifinals of the Gold Cup in July.

After another qualifying loss in September, Mexico's increasingly dysfunctional national soccer federation fired De la Torre and replaced him with Luis Fernando Tena, who led the country's U-23 team to its first-ever Olympic title in London in 2012.

Tena lasted one match before being dismissed four days after taking the job when Mexico lost to the U.S., 2-0.

Vucetich, recently sacked as coach for Liga MX club Monterrey, took Tena's place but he lasted just two matches. Now Herrera, should he get the job, has three weeks to prepare the team for the two-game playoff with New Zealand, one it must win to punch its ticket for Brazil.

“If you had told me I’m going (to coach) for two games of course I wouldn’t have (become coach)," Vucetich told ESPN. "In the conditions under which the team is located is a very delicate situation, with a cracked foundation, no strength in many areas. But I think in that sense, a period of six working sessions it can not be fixed.”

Two of Mexico's top players -- forward Carlos Vela and goalkeeper Memo Ochoa -- have been in and out of the national team because of feuds with the Mexican federation. And many of the players who have suited up for El Tri this year have played far below the level they've displayed with their club teams.

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