CONCACAF Champions League

Rodrigo Ares discusses loss to Tigres, plus Pumas lack of depth

Pumas Club President Rodrigo Ares gave an interesting interview to Fox Sports Radio this week following the club’s disappointing exit from the CONCACAF Champions League against Tigres. The entire organization – players, coaching staff, administrators, and fans – are naturally upset with Pumas elimination at the hands of Tigres, something that has been all too common as of late.

His range of comments touched on the loss itself, the differences between the two club’s fan base and financial situations, and admitting Pumas roster depth is lacking.

Last two losses to Tigres hurt

“It hurts,” Ares told Fox Sports about Wednesday’s elimination. “We’ve had two games [against Tigres] that have hurt me badly. Three months ago and the one this week. The difference between the game in November where we deserved to lose, in this one, even though the score was lopsided we had seven opportunities on goal and we didn’t finish.”

Those were the most honest words, which as I mentioned players and fans alike would likely agree with the president.
From there, Ares insisted Tigres got the better end of the scoreline, but UNAM boasts a bigger and better fan base.
“Although it hurts the people of Tigres, Pumas is way above in terms of fans,” he said.

After a 3-0 elimination loss from an international competition, not to mention last season’s embarrassing exit in the liguilla, I’m not so sure this even matters or should be discussed from someone with Ares’ title. It’s just my opinion, but this is a discussion for opposing fans when they watch games together or on social media, not team administration members to the media.

While the fan bases is an advantage for Pumas in Ares’ opinion, one thing certainly isn’t.

Is money the excuse for the losses?

“Not money though,” Ares added after discussing the differences in fan base. Ares made it clear Tigres’ tactics are to outspend opponents and build a team of players that make it much easier to compete in dual tournaments such as Liga MX and CCL.

“What they have is a roster with a lot of money invested in it and that makes it much easier to assemble a good team.”

He’s not wrong there. When Ares took over the club, he clearly identified the financial health of the club was not in the best shape after the last couple of years were spent ignoring internal talent and searching for expensive foreign options (which did not work out).

The problem is, a day after an important loss, and in a winnable game, this simply comes off as an excuse. It’s no secret that Tigres has been bringing in big name players. It’s no secret big name players cost good money. But there will always be teams that bring in big name players and spend more money than others – this happens in all sports – and yet, teams find ways to break them down and win.

Pumas to have 5 Mexican National Team players in Qatar

Ares turned his attention to the Mexican National Team also, insisting that Pumas focus is on the 2022 World Cup and the club has big plans to be highly represented in Qatar. He’s said in the past he wants five Pumas players to represent Mexico in that tournament, and has repeatedly given fans and the media insight to the workings within the organization to get there.

“We’re not only in the business of winning championships, we’re also in it to develop players for the National Team. For Tigres, the National Team doesn’t have importance within the institution. We’re working extremely hard to build a new Cantera,” he stressed.

Ares went on to point out many players debuted with Pumas but with limited playing time never earned the opportunity to make an impact. He used Jesus Gallardo, who has earned a couple call ups to the Mexican National Team in the last year.

“A typical case is that of [Jesus] Gallardo, who was put in eight games as a left back when he never even played in that position.”

Gallardo, who has been the only Pumas player to break into the National Team recently, has struggled mightily this season. He’s still young, and patience with his development is something that fans and media alike need to be more conscience of.

For me, discussing the fans and the expensive roster just aren’t needed right now. Ares argued that Pumas roster isn’t built for two tournaments, but from an outsider’s view there were some subtle changes Juan Francisco Palencia could have made during this stretch of games that may have potentially impacted the outcome. That didn’t happen.

Erik Vera at LB to give Alan Mendoza a rest, Santiago Palacios could have supplemented players up front, Omar Islas, who’s playing well with the U-20s, could have helped, Alex Castro could have played in the midfield or center back (and comes with experience), Jose Antonio Garcia giving Josecarlos Van Rankin a rest, and the list goes on. Not all of these changes at once, but the point is options are there.

His full declarations here:

What are your thoughts on Ares’ comments to Fox Sports? How about the way the rosters were handled during the two tournaments over the last two weeks? Let me hear your opinion in the comments below.