Mexico's questionable Pan-Am roster

Instead of using the Pan-Am Games as a way to build depth for the national team, Mexico is instead focusing on older players who will help them win the relatively meaning tournament. Success now could be costly down the road.

Updated: October 20, 2011, 2:39 PM ET
By Brent Latham

Wednesday night's opening victory against Ecuador in the Pan-American Games was in many ways a symbol of all that's wrong with the Mexican U-22 team right now. After an early defensive lapse put the hosts in the hole, El Tri's tying goal came after a series of headers bounced around the box for Oribe Peralta to head home. The winner came late when a clearance freakishly rebounded off Jorge Enriquez and into the net in a play resembling a blocked punt more than a streak of the young midfielder's potential brilliance.

That the 27-year-old Peralta was the focus of the attack for 90 minutes, while future star Enriquez only came on for a few late minutes, reveals Coach Luis Tena's mentality for a misfit competition on which few nations place much importance: win at all costs.

After a streak of mediocre results, Tena is a coach fearful for his job. The result is a disjointed squad incapable of providing the offensive flow that fans have come to expect of Mexican teams at every level. And the emphasis on winning now is also affecting the U-22 side's longer term chances of making a mark at the London Olympics next year -- clearly the most important tournament on the U-23 schedule, and probably the only one Mexico should really care about right now.

Instead, with Tena at the helm, Mexico has decided to underline the games in Guadalajara with a red marker. While other powers like Argentina and Brazil sent watered down versions of the U-20 teams that competed in the World Cup in Colombia in August, Mexico has assembled a squad more geared towards winning matches now than preparing for the challenges down the road.