One-on-One with Gerardo Torrado: On El Tri, NASL and the path to Europe

Trevor Ruszkowski/NASL
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FFT: What was the reaction at home?

GT: The people were disappointed. We understood it was a great opportunity for Mexico to achieve in that game what the country was dreaming. But understanding football and life, it's the way you take care of the things that happened. There was a lot of learning in that game. A huge learning from that game.

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FFT: Mexico makes the round of 16 in every World Cup, but you've gone further, to the quarterfinals, only in 1970 and 1986, when you were the host. Is there anything that prevents Mexico from advancing, aside from the other team being better on the day?

GT: I think we just think too much about it, and when you overthink things, probably you get thoughts that are not good for the mindset. So I think you just have to enjoy the game, understand that you have to give your best in each game. Small mistakes or good positions can make the difference. [We have to] understand we are a good team, a good country that plays well and a country that can play face to face to each country knowing our strengths and being confident.

FFT: There's been a coaching carousel with El Tri, with so many changes, and there's so much pressure put on the coaches, by the media, the fans and the club owners. I think you played for eight different national team head coaches, plus a few interim coaches. Rarely do we see one coach in charge through a full four-year cycle. Does that hinder Mexico's process?

GT: It's a great process [during this cycle]. I think [Juan Carlos Osorio] is doing great, and I know the players are really comfortable the way he practices and the way he plays. You just have to see the team is doing great and is in first place in the table [and has qualified for Russia 2018].

Now in other processes, yeah, when you don't get the results, sometimes the press or the people become worried about [qualifying for the] World Cup, and sometimes they don't have enough patience to see what's going on, and they quit the process. It’s not good, not just for soccer, but for everything. ... It's not the best way to get to [the World Cup].

FFT: Will Mexico win a World Cup in your lifetime?

GT: Yes. I understand if we continue working hard and improving something, that we have the [ability to do so]. I truly believe [we will win] sometime before I die. I hope so, because I'm going to be one of the most satisfied and glad people on the earth watching that.

We are improving. That's the most important part. That we are open to still learning and still improving and making that progress that makes us try with the biggest teams in the world.

FFT: There have always been Mexican players in MLS, but we've seen more prominent players in their primes coming here, with the dos Santos brothers at the LA Galaxy and Carlos Vela joining LAFC next year. What does it say? Are you excited to see it?

GT: Yes. They have their thoughts and their environment to make those decisions, because they were playing in great leagues, better than the American league. It says that the American league is doing the right thing, trying to hire good players that can develop — and can help develop youth players to make the level of the league more competitive.

FFT: When you look at where American soccer was when you started — the national team, the league, the game in this country — and see where it is now, what do you see?

GT: It's been growing [like] crazy. You can see that in how all the kids want to play soccer. That's how you start everything, with people wanting to become someone around soccer. That's a good way to start. They have really good discipline and understand to become good in something, you have to do a lot of reps, and they're willing to do that. That's great.

Matt Schlotzhauer/NASL

Matt Schlotzhauer/NASL

Now the league, it's really organized and the infrastructure is amazing, so all the players that are in the MLS, they understand they are playing for something big, and that makes them give their best effort and their best soccer. [You've got the] The new stadiums. People are taking care of [the game in the U.S.]. It's been growing so much.

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