Several countries are naming their World Cup squads as the days leading up to the big event pass by, and while the likes of Brazil and Germany have named relatively straightforward teams, soccer fans in North America will have to wait just a little while longer before the U.S. 30-man shortlist is announced.
U.S. Soccer said that the U.S. team shortlist would be announced on Good Morning America on May 30, giving manager Jurgen Klinsmann a few more weeks to decide on his roster. However, for Mexico, manager Miguel “Piojo” Herrera decided to announce his team right away, foregoing a 30-man rundown and naming his 23-player World Cup squad on Friday.
It’s an interesting decision by Herrera but one that can be easily explained. In 1994, Herrera was one of the players considered on the fringe of making the World Cup squad for Mexico for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, which was held in the United States. However, he was left out by the manager at the time, Miguel Mejia Baron.
Since then, Herrera has said he won’t call in extra players just to cut them right before the tournament, so with that, we have the Mexico team that will be wearing green, white, and red for this year’s FIFA World Cup.
Here is the roster:
Goalkeepers (3): Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio/FRA), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
Defenders (8): Paul Aguilar (Club America), Andres Guardado (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Miguel Layun (Club America), Rafael Marquez (Leon), Hector Moreno (Espayol/SPA), Diego Reyes (Porto/POR), Francisco Javier Rodriguez (Club America), Carlos Salcido (Tigres)
Midfielders (7): Isaac Brizuela (Toluca), Marco Fabian (Cruz Azul), Hector Herrera (Porto/POR), Juan Carlos Medina (Club America), Luis Montes (Leon), Carlos Pena (Leon), Jose Juan Vazquez (Leon)
Forwards (5): Giovani Dos Santos (Villarreal/SPA), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United/ENG), Raul Jimenez (Club America), Oribe Peralta (Santos), Alan Pulido (Tigres)
So, relatively predictable for Mexico, who will rely on a strong core of players like Javier Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos, and Andres Guardado. Interestingly enough, Guardado was once considered a winger/forward but has since dropped back into a left fullback slot with his club team, Valencia, and later on, Bayer Leverkusen, and it looks like he’ll be playing in that same role for Mexico in the World Cup, too.
Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa makes the final roster and he will be starting in this World Cup, it seems. Ochoa was once a hot commodity but since the last World Cup, he has stumbled a bit, and Jesus Corona of Cruz Azul was set to start between the posts for Mexico. However, Herrera has made it clear that Ochio will be his number one keeper, but that may change, so it’s a battle worth watching.
One surprise was the inclusion of Carlos Salcido. He’s a good defender with club form in his favor but he hasn’t been called up in a while. He makes the team, as do many players from Mexico, 16 out of 23 plying their trade at home in the Mexican top league.
Five players are called in from Leon and four from Club America, giving the two heavy-hitters plenty of presence in the national camp. Mexico could line up in a 4-5-1 or in a 5-3-2 depending on how it utilizes its fullbacks, but a few names that should make it to the starting XI regardless of formation include Hernandez up top, Guardado out wide, Medina in the middle, and Oribe Peralta up top in some capacity.
It’s a strong Mexican team that Herrera has put together, one that was built on the foundation of the Gold Medal winning side in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Herrera and Mexico fans will be hoping for a better go of things this time around than in last years’ Confederations Cup, though. How Mexico fares in the World Cup comes down to how they can handle Croatia and Cameroon, as Brazil is a tough test in Group A. The Brazilians will be heavily motivated to finish first but Mexico has a good chance at a number two spot in Group A, and with this roster, that certainly seems possible.