Television coverage of the upcoming Round-of-16 matchup between Mexico and the Netherlands on Sunday in Fortaleza promises to have plenty of camera shots of the sidelines. While Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal can appear subdued at times, his counterpart in the knockout stage is arguably the most animated coach in the world.
Miguel Herrera, 46, who became the fourth head coach hired by Mexico since September, has made a name for himself with his sideline antics. With the exaggerated reactions and facial expressions of a character played by former “Saturday Night Live’ comic Chris Farley, Herrera has increasingly become among the most talked about figures of the 2014 World Cup, with videos of his sideline behavior going viral.
For every Mexico goal, Herrera pumps his fists with his mouth agape in jubilation.
When Mexico has been victimized by a referee (there has been more than a few examples), Herrera goes bananas with rage.
It often seems as though Herrera is completely incapable of maintaining his composure, and the world can’t get enough, as YouTube has buzzed with numerous clips of his celebrations. Andrew Keh of the New York Times described Herrera as “a joy machine without an off switch.” ESPN.com posted a video of “The many faces of Miguel Herrera.”
After time expired in Mexico’s clinching 3-1 win over Croatia on Tuesday, cameras caught Herrera throwing his hands up and jumping into the arms of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who has been stellar in the tournament. Herrera would also leap on top of defender Paul Aguilar and roll on the pitch with him.
“That is one of the happiest days of my life. It was a hard fight, but my team pulled through. We felt as if we were playing at home in Mexico,” Herrera said after the game.
It would be hard to confuse Herrera’s actions as anything but happy. He was seen sprinting to his assistant coaches after Mexico’s second goal, which basically sealed Mexico’s place in the last 16.
Such reactions are nothing new for Herrera, who had been equally demonstrative when he has coached Mexican clubs teams like America. When America defeated Cruz Azul in a penalty shootout in a Mexican League final in May 2013, Herrera gave his most memorable celebration. As the heavy rain poured on the portly Hidalgo native, it almost came off as cartoonish and there might have been fear that he was in danger of suffering a heart attack.
Herrera, who played defense for Mexico’s national team from 1993-1994, might also deserve a heavy dose of credit for the team’s success. Mexico entered the World Cup under heavy scrutiny for their lackluster efforts in the qualifying. The soccer-rich nation would have missed out on the World Cup, if not for a last-minute goal by the U.S. against Panama.
After months of struggling, El Tri have played at their highest level since 2011.
The Dutch are strong favorites to defeat Mexico this weekend. An upset might mean Herrera will not only receive attention for his expected theatrics, but also for his coaching insight.