Mexico takes one leap forward, but two steps back?
A little over a month after Mexico celebrated its greatest achievement in women’s soccer – playing the U17 World Cup final – its soccer federation took what seem to be two steps back.
Despite this outcome, no decision was made regarding his future until late last week when a press release discretely revealed his departure.
The federation announced 26 players being called up in preparation for the Cyprus Cup in February. Along with the pictures of all the players was that of coach Cristopher Cuéllar, who previously was in charge of the U20 team and who’s also known for being the son of former senior coach, Leonardo Cuéllar (Medina’s predecessor).
The press release included no explanation regarding if Cuéllar Jr. will stay with the team permanently. Below all the information regarding the call up was a small paragraph thanking Medina for his time and professionalism.
Even though the transition from a U20 team to the senior squad seems like an obvious step, Cuéllar Jr. might have to deal with the fact that unlike Mónica Vergara, who guided the U17 team to the World Cup final, his team didn’t make it past the group stage in the U20 World Cup (also in 2018) even after winning the Concacaf tournament earlier in the year.
There’s also his father’s history with some of the players to take into account. Leonardo Cuéllar left the national team after Charlyn Corral, Mexico’s most well-known player and striker, decided to avoid call ups as long as he remained in his position after failing to see any improvement in the team’s performances (mainly after failing to the Canada 2015 World Cup).
Later on, a story published by the New York Times also explained how players Bianca Sierra and Stephany Mayor were requested by the coach to keep their relationship private. They decided to continue their careers in Iceland away from this type of criticism, although, like Charlyn, didn’t hesitate to accept call ups from Cuéllar’s successor, Medina.
Now, with no World Cup in sight, but plenty of time to build a new project, the Federation has kept quiet regarding the future of the senior squad. Cuéllar Jr’s designation might be the obvious step in following the growth of some of the players he knows since the U20 level, but the return to a playing style inherited by his father (he was also his assistant coach) leaves many questioning if it is in fact the right choice forward for Mexico’s women’s soccer.