Lozano tasked with preparing a competitive side for the 2026 World Cup

Jaime Lozano is preparing for his first test as permanent El Tri manager and he's had to deal with off-field distractions. (Photo by Shaun Clark/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Jaime Lozano is preparing for his first test as permanent El Tri manager and he's had to deal with off-field distractions. (Photo by Shaun Clark/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /
lozano el tri job
Jaime Lozano will likely rely on young striker Santi Giménez as El Tri looks forward to the 2026 World Cup. (Photo by Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

Habemus procurator! White smoke emerged from the chimney at FMF headquarters on Thursday signifying that Jimmy Lozano had been formally named coach of Team Mexico.

Most pundits figured Lozano would get the nod after he rescued El Tri from the doldrums and guided the green-white-and-red to Gold Cup glory. But the FMF has not been particularly enlightened in recent decisions it has faced.

The triumphant performance at the Gold Cup marked the third time “El Jimmy” has earned silverware while in charge of El Tri. The two previous times (bronze at the 2019 Toulon Tournament; bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021), the 44-year-old Mexico City native was in charge of the U-23 team.

Hoisting the Gold Cup trophy in So-Fi Stadium on July 16 went a long way in erasing the stink left in the wake of the Nations League debacle, a turnaround that made it awfully hard for the FMF to seriously consider any other candidate.

Lozano to manage generational change

The announcement was met with gratification – and perhaps a sigh of relief – among players and fans who feared that federation executives might outthink themselves and try to hire a big-name coach.

El Tri responded to Lozano’s coaching style and tactics as the players embraced the attacking mentality after appearing confined and indolent under the conservative approach favored by predecessor Diego Cocca.

Lozano will be tasked with forging a renewed national team heading into the 2026 World Cup for which Mexico will serve as co-host.

The only potential stumbling block for the coach will be the 2024 Copa América.

As a host of the World Cup, Mexico is ensured a berth so they won’t have the advantage of playing qualifiers. As such, the only official contests El Tri will have to navigate will be in the Copa América.

Should Team Mexico stumble badly, it would not be a surprise if the FMF panics and overreacts. But let’s not dwell on that.

With three years until the next “Mundial,” Lozano will surely look to rejuvenate the squad. He was burdened with a veteran-laden roster at the Gold Cup since Cocca had already selected his favorites, but Lozano did give greater roles to a few youngsters as the team advanced in the tournament.

Striker Santiago Giménez, 22, scored the championship-winning goal, while midfielder Erick Sánchez was a dynamo every time he stepped on the pitch.

A few of the gray-beards who’ve been regular selections are likely to see their invitations to training camp dry up. Among them are defenders Héctor Moreno, 35, and Néstor Araujo, 31. Striker Henry Martín, 30, could also see his opportunities dwindle although he was Liga MX MVP last season.

Those who’ve been a regular presence but have underperformed can expect challenges from the rising stars currently making names for themselves in Liga MX. Left back Jesús Gallardo, 28, could be (and should be) replaced by Omar Campos, 21, or Gerardo Arteaga, 24.

Others who should not be planning their trip to the World Cup just yet include wingers Uriel Antuna, Orbelín Pineda and Diego Lainez as well as midfielder Carlos Rodríguez and right back Jorge Sánchez. If they do not show growth and consistency at the club level, their lockers could be occupied by others on the rise.

For now, coach Lozano will be scouting Liga MX games and preparing his list for the September FIFA break when El Tri will face Australia (Sept. 9) and Uzbekistan.

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The competition will be significantly stronger during the October FIFA break as Team Mexico comes up against Ghana (Oct. 14) and Germany (Oct. 17).