The reverberations from Mexico’s upset win over Germany on Sunday are still being felt around the world – in Mexico City, it was literally so – and the role of LAFC star Carlos Vela in the memorable World Cup triumph has occupied no small amount of the coverage.
“He was one of our best players today,” El Tri head coach Juan Carlos Osorio said of Vela postgame, delving into detail about the Designated Player’s role in his intricate plan to knock off the defending World Cup champions.
“Carlos Vela's job today was to find him in Zone 14, in the space in front of the two [central] defenders and behind [German midfielders Sami] Khedira and [Toni] Kroos, to separate that relationship betwee the two center mids, and I think we achieved it,” said Osorio of LAFC’s playmaker, who was handed a similar role in Mexico’s 4-5-1 shape on Sunday and worked hard on both sides of the ball.
“If you remember, Carlos was the one who made the last pass for the shots we had, for the chances in the final third, and the idea with him was to give us everything for 60 minutes,” added Osorio, who explained that the decision to substitute Vela out around the hour mark was decided long in advance.
“He made a very big effort. On set pieces he had to defend [Mats] Hummels and in open play I had him press the central defenders. The 60 minutes was what we had budgeted … it hurt me to remove him, but that was the plan we had.”
Vela’s efforts in orchestrating El Tri’s razor-sharp counterattacking earned him positive reviews from other observers of the match, and is likely to have earned him a role of some sort in Mexico’s next two matches, against South Korea on Saturday and vs. Sweden on June 27.
Meanwhile, critics of Osorio – who led the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls earlier in his coaching career – could only applaud the cerebral Colombian’s work against one of the tournament favorites.
“We designed the plan approximately six months ago,” Osorio said on Sunday. “And it worked.”