Mexican soccer coach Miguel Herrera announced his call-ups today for the upcoming friendlies in November against Belorussia and Netherlands. Among the list of familiar names in the batch of European players he has chosen was Carlos Vela.
Primeros convocados ante Holanda y Bielorrusia: Ochoa, Reyes, Herrera, Guardado J dos Santos, Corona, G dos Sanos, Hernández, Vela & Jiménez— Miguel Herrera (@MiguelHerreraDT) October 28, 2014
This is Herrera’s third attempt at convincing Vela to play for El Tri, and rightfully so. Despite his self-declared “permanent” hiatus from the national team, Vela had a good record with El Tri.
Still, Vela’s reluctance to play with the team is alarming. He refused to play in the friendlies leading up to the World Cup in Brazil earlier this year and then refused to play in the tournament itself. Just a few weeks ago, he was telling the press that this was not the right time for him to be thinking about playing with the national team at all.
This, of course, is not Herrera’s fault at all. While I think that his persistence in trying to convince Carlos Vela to play is becoming somewhat of a soap opera that the sports outlets are just eating up as much as they can, Herrera’s approach for getting Vela specifically is something I would expect him to do for any Mexican player that is able and fit to play.
Herrera has always had a very open door policy when it comes to choosing his players since he was named the team’s head coach back in October of 2013. After the parade of misfortune and disappointment that was going on during the qualifiers for Mexico, once Herrera stepped up to the plate, there was a new mentality that entered into the team.
It was no longer about favoritism or nepotism. He was not going to choose his buddies to go to Brazil (yes, I still have a grudge of Bofo going to South Africa in 2010… really, Bofo?). His stance has always been firm and clear: to get the most talented players to perform at the best of their ability whenever they are chosen to represent their country’s colors.
It was true when he lead a team of domestically based players to the playoffs in New Zealand and won 5-1 in the first leg and again 3-0 when they came back to Mexico.
It was true when he flew to Brazil and showed a strong team (that was virtually non-existent during the qualifiers) that was capable of beating Cameroon, tying Brazil (the host nation and favorites for the tournament), and beating Croatia with style after all the talk of Ochoa being just an ordinary goalie. Even when Mexico came up against the Netherlands in the Round of 16, the team was different. The atmosphere and the belief of the team grew.
And it continues to grow.
Herrera knows that and he firmly believes that Carlos Vela deserves a chance to be a part of this. He believes that any Mexican player deserves to play (hey… even Rafa Marquez might get another chance at playing again). Rumors have already started of possible sanctions that FIFA can enforce on Vela if he decides to reject Herrera’s invitation once again.
But that is not what Herrera wants. His emotions on the pitch are very colorful, that's without question. But off the pitch, Herrera is a very calm man. His approach to Vela is very civil and his discussion about it to the press has had that same feel.
It’s all up to Vela now to decide if he’s ready to be part of the great movement Herrera is preparing the world for with Mexican soccer.
The ball is on his side of the pitch.