Let the notebook scribbling begin.
Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio is known for his meticulous preparation, constantly writing his observations (one assumes, perhaps he's penning poetry) on a notebook. Now that he knows the teams El Tri will face at the Copa America Centenario - Uruguay in Arizona, Jamaica in California and Venezuela in Houston - he'll start scouting.
He has a few advantages heading into the summer, not least of which the fact that while Group C isn't a total cakewalk, it's set up well for El Tri to get into the knockout portion of the tournament.
The toughest team by some measure is Uruguay. La Celeste are soon to have Luis Suarez return to the already impressive fold that also includes defender Diego Godin, forward Edinson Cavani and Liga MX midfielders Carlos Sanchez and Egidio Arevalo Rios. Mexico doesn't match up particularly well with Uruguay's physically imposing players (and what defenders have been able to keep Suarez in check during the past several seasons?).
Could Mexico beat Uruguay? Sure. El Tri will have considerable talent in their Copa America side, with Miguel Layun, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Hector Herrera and Carlos Vela among those who will enter at their best if form holds. Still, Uruguay will be the toughest team Mexico faces to that point in 2016. But even if Mexico can't get past Uruguay, playing the South Americans first will give a chance for Osorio to make the corrections needed to top the other two teams in the group and finish at least as the runner-up, good enough to advance to the quarterfinals.
Jamaica is an improving national team, something Mexico was able to find out first-hand when the teams met in the 2015 Gold Cup final. While Jamaica has plenty of speed and a much-improved back line anchored by Leicester City standout Wes Morgan, El Tri's final win showed there's still a gap between the countries on the pitch. Mexico won that match 3-1, and it wasn't particularly arduous. Playing in the Rose Bowl, where Mexico enjoyed a partisan crowd just months ago against the United States in the CONCACAF Cup, also could help Mexico get past the Reggae Boyz.
The final match, which will take place in Houston, is against Venezuela. That's the South American team most coaches were rooting for to be put in their group, even if they won't say it publicly. It's one of the few teams in the group that doesn't seem to be on an upward trajectory. As daily life gets tougher in the country, players have become increasingly frustrated with the federation. It's foolish to use the transitive property in international soccer, but it's a bit of a guide that Honduras topped Venezuela in a friendly shortly before Mexico beat Honduras with ease in World Cup qualification.
Things could've gone better for Mexico at Sunday's draw - but not by much. Osorio is a man who likes a challenge, and this group will give him that. It also will give him confidence that he can guide Mexico into the knockout stages of the Copa. From there, the federation's goal of a top-three finish will be in reach.
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