Mexico revealed the players it would be calling for the World Cup qualifiers taking place March 25th and March 29th against Canada last Thursday.
The first leg is quickly upon us and there were a few thoughts about those called that were brought to attention.
The call-ups show the usual contenders that should be on the field for the game: Guardado, the Porto Trio (Layun, Tecatito and Hector Herrera), Reyes, Aguilar, Raul Jimenez, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, and Javier Aquino. It’s no surprise to see plenty of the European-based Mexicans being called up. Guardado has been have a phenomenal season with PSV. Despite being eliminated from Champions League by Atlètico Madrid in a gripping penalty shootout, the loss from that game could not shadow the amazing form that Guardado is in right now. He has been unstoppable no matter what stage he is put to play on. He should have no problem lead El Tri against a team like Canada.
There are a decent amount of random faces in the list of players called up for the two matches but what stands out the most is who wasn’t called up for the qualifying matches. Carlos Vela, Gio Dos Santos, Oribe Peralta and Jonathan Dos Santos were all missing from the list. Jonathan Dos Santos has been injured for quite some time, and it was only recently that Bruce Arena made the same announcement for Gio but Carlos Vela was reportedly not allowed to go with the Mexican National Soccer Team by his club, Real Sociedad. He was recently punished for missing training after a night of partying and held a press conference on Wednesday talking about the incident and the regret he feels missing out on international play. While Jonathan has leverage because of his injury, both Gio and Vela are not living up to their potential.
Gio Dos Santos has always seemed to have more charisma with the Mexican National Team than any of the clubs he has played for and Vela comes and goes for El Tri despite his great talent but the snub does not go unnoticed. Both players need to prove to Osorio they deserve a spot on the squad.
Oribe Peralta was a big surprise to have been missing from the list. He has been fundamental to Amèrica’s success both in the Liga MX as well as the CONCACAF Champions League matches. He has 13 goals in his last 29 appearances with the club and is in great form. Gio and Vela might have doubtful performances but Osorio overlooking Peralta is a definite surprise.
Gio and Vela might have been snubbed, but some players might have been overestimated. Ochoa is still redeeming himself with Malaga. He is finally getting some starting time and has had a few clean sheets since then but to have Talavera be one of the alternate goalies to come replace him might be stretching it a bit. Eduardo “Lalo” Herrera also being called-up for the Mexican National Team is a shock, particularly because these are World Cup Qualifying matches and his chances of being a start in 2018 are very small.
Brizuela and Lozano both had great games the last friendly match against Senegal but they have not had enough experience at the senior level for them to really be seen as contenders for starting positions.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rafa Marquez being called up is a definite shocker. Having just turned 37 years old this year and having four World Cups under his belt, the time to step down from the team should come sooner rather than later. There is no question that Marquez has served a very strong and assertive leadership role for Mexico’s defensive end. And it is also true that in games where Marquez is not present, other defenders put in the central position have floundered when forced to live up to Marquez’s example but enough is enough. Rafa being called up might just be a preliminary move until Osorio is able to decide who best would fit to take his place but if it not, any mistake against Canada due to strength or youth could mean big trouble when Mexico actually faces teams that are talented attacking-wise.
This World Cup qualifier is a test not just for the players but for Osorio especially. There is some great potential with these players but there are also some strong missing pieces. With two big tournaments coming up (and with the chances of some senior players going off to play in the Olympics), Osorio must decide who he wants to have help him reach that final game in the Copa America this summer.