On Wednesday, Mexico announced their 23-man squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup Tournament that will be played next month in the United States. The squad is something of a ‘B’ squad given that those who were called up to play the past three World Cup Qualifiers and FIFA Confederations Cup are the ‘A’ squad.
Looking at the squad, which will be trained by National Team Assistant Coach Salvador Reyes and Under 17 coach Raul Gutierrez until coach Jose Manuel De La Torre returns from the Confederations Cup, there are some players with significant national team experience who, with a good showing at the Gold Cup, could find themselves earning a call up for crucial World Cup Qualifiers in September.
The three goalkeepers that will be on the Gold Cup roster for ‘El Tri’ have been called up to the national team before at some point in their career. Each has been a victim of playing the position, which has been the strongest of the national team for the past two decades. Between Cirilo Saucedo, Moisés Muñoz and Jonathan Orozco, I would suspect that Muñoz, who plays for Club América, will be the starting goalkeeper.
The defense is made up of players who have played with the national team previously at some point and a few players who are making their first appearance in a national team call-up. Miguel Layun and Jair Pereira of Club América and Cruz Azul, respectively, are making their first appearance with the national team after having had impressive Clausura campaigns.
Other players of note are UANL Tigres duo Hugo Ayala and Israel Jiménez, who have been fixtures in the national team the past year, and Miguel Ponce of Chivas de Guadalajara and Darvin Chavez of Monterrey were members of the team that won Olympic gold at the London 2012 Olympic games.
Just like with the defenders, the midfield has a number of players who recently have been a part of the national team set-up. Standouts are Fernando Arce, who plays for Tijuana, and Marco Fabian of Chivas. Both should be able to provide the creative play that seems to be missing with ‘El Tri’ at this moment, and if they are able to deliver in Gold Cup play, they might be in line to play the World Cup Qualifiers in September.
Other players to keep an eye out for are are UNAM Pumas duo Javier Cortes and David Cabrera. Cortes is an attacking right-sided midfielder who has a good shot from right outside the penalty area and has scored some sensational goals in the past. Cabrera, who would have been part of the team that won Olympic gold had it not been for a cruciate knee ligament injury, has recovered fully and had a sensational Clausura campaign. Cabrera is similar in play to Javi Martinez of Bayern Munich.
Up front, the guys tasked with scoring are either veterans or young inexperienced national team players. The veternas up front are Rafael Marquez Lugo of Chivas and Omar Bravo of Atlas. Both were their respective team’s leading goal scorer in the past Clausura tournament, with Bravo having played in the 2006 World Cup.
The youngsters of the group are Javier Orozco, who is now playing for Santos Laguna, and Isaac Brizuela of Toluca. It is likely that Orozco and Brizuela will likely be relegated to being substitutes with little chance of getting to play depending on the flow of a game and any injuries.
The squad will be expected to repeat as winners, with Mexico having won back in 2011. In addition to winning the tournament, these players have the incentive of knowing that a good showing could see them be called up for World Cup Qualifiers to be played in September and help Mexico find a way to qualify.