COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Mexico lost their 2014 World Cup qualifier to Honduras on September 6, a decision came only hours later to part ways with head coach José Manuel "Chepo" De la Torre. Luis Fernando Tena, one of de la Torre's assistants, was named interim head coach with just three days to prepare for a trip to Columbus to face the United States in another crucial qualifier.
Tena's tenure is likely to be short-lived after El Tri's latest 2-0 loss to the United States in Columbus. Thanks to a Honduras draw later in the evening against Panama, the US qualified for the World Cup with the win. Costa Rica, with a tie in Jamaica, also clinched a spot, while Mexico fell to an unthinkable fifth in the Hexagonal.
After the loss, Tena told reporters that his future with the team is uncertain, and that decisions have yet to be made on the future of he and the rest of the staff.
"We made an arrangement to discuss it after the game. There's nothing that's been decided at this point," he said through a translator. "This isn't the best time to make decisions. The eight members that are left of the staff [decided that they] would get through this game and then analyze it. Tomorrow we will see what needs to happen."
Despite the dim outlook, Tena said that the team still has the players it needs to make a late push for the final CONCACAF World Cup spot, or at least the fourth-place spot and a subsequent home-and-home playoff vs. New Zealand.
But things must improve.
"We have the players and the heart to get through this. The players have showed many times quality, personality and character," he said. "Yes, at the end, we were losing and the situation got dire and our rival took advantage. But the fight was always there. The team could be better. But we can still grow. The team can and must win two more if we want to get to the World Cup."
In the meantime, Tena said that he and the rest of the coaching staff have "stayed loyal and responsible for today's game," and "loyal to our friend Chepo."
When asked whether he wanted to remain the head coach, Tena could only offer more uncertainty.
"We'll see," he said. "We have to analyze a lot of things."