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Surveying Chepo's first year with El Tri

He's no one's second choice, and the man known as "Chepo" made sure everyone knew. Jose Manuel de la Torre's first year as head coach of the Mexican national team produced good results and despite several player suspensions.

Updated: October 25, 2011, 6:10 PM ET
By Jorge Arangure Jr.

On the afternoon of Oct. 16, 2010, Monterrey coach Victor Manuel Vucetich stunned the Mexican football world when he turned down the opportunity to succeed Javier Aguirre as national team coach.

"The reasons why I'm making this decision are personal, and more than anything, family related," Vucetich told reporters in Monterrey. "At this time, my presence at home is imperative and this has to take precedence in this situation. I know what I'm turning down, I know this is a unique opportunity, but I'm at peace with this decision."

There had been other candidates mentioned, but Vucetich clearly had been the first choice. Monterrey had played the type of attractive, attacking football the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) wanted. With a slew of young attackers on the national team, Vucetich seemed like a perfect choice.

Left scrambling, the FMF turned to its second choice, the well-regarded Jose Manuel de la Torre, who had guided Chivas and Toluca to league titles. A deal was quickly struck. On Oct. 18, 2010, it was announced that de la Torre, known as "Chepo" in Mexico, would become the team's coach as soon as the Mexican Apertura was over in December. De la Torre was surely a capable coach, one with an impressive resume, but Vucetich's public rejection had put Chepo's hiring in question. How could he succeed as coach if the impression was that the FMF didn't really want him in the first place?

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