Whenever México play in a friendly that is held in the United States as part of their contract with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) there are two different conversations that are had by fans and members of the media. The first is why is México playing a useless friendly game against team x? The other conversation had is the analyzing of the squad list for said game.
On January 29, México will play the first of a scheduled six friendlies in their lead up to the 2014 World Cup as they take on South Korea in a game to be played at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX. Earlier on Thursday, Miguel Herrera released his first call-up list as the full time coach of ‘El Tri’ where by he named 21 players to be part of the squad for the game. Two things that stand out from the squad list is its predictability with some pleasant surprise call-ups for players who have earned a look.
For starters, Herrera has called up 12 players who took part in the World Cup Qualifying Playoff which saw México earn its berth in the upcoming World Cup by defeating New Zealand. This means that members of Club América like Miguel Layun, Juan Carlos Medina and Paul Aguilar were selected along with Leon players like Rafael Marquez, Luis Montes and Carlos Peña. The one big exception of this list who was not called up was forward Raul Jimenez who sustained an injury in practice on Wednesday and is very likely to miss this weekend’s league game for Club América.
Aside from the predictable names which many of us expected to see, Herrera also called up a few players who have been called up previously but will certainly will draw some surprise. This list is made of players like Miguel Ponce of Toluca, Jorge Torres Nilo of Tigres UANL, Jesus Zavala of Monterrey and Enrique Perez of Atlas. Aside from these players, there was also the surprise call-up of players like Tigres forward Alan Pulido and Pachuca defender Rodolfo Pizzaro. These two young players certainly merit a look and a chance be called up as their play since last season has been consistently good for their respective clubs.
In another category of surprises are two young players who one can say have a legitimate chance of being one of the 23 players to represent México at the World Cup. The first is Leon midfielder Juan Jose Vasquez whom Herrera had made mentions would very likely to be called up for this game. The second player is Toluca winger/forward Issac Brizuela whose play in the last year continues to show he can be a very versatile player for ‘El Tri’. The last surprise call-up is that of Diego Reyes who plays with FC Porto but has spent more time playing with the Porto B team this season.
The call-up of Reyes to the team for a non-FIFA Friendly makes a lot of sense as in Herrera’s three central defender setup he can play any of the three central defender positions and would give Rafael Marquez a nice cover if he is selected for the World Cup. Finally, Reyes is a player who can play as a holding midfielder so the potential of him showing he can play that position as he did at times when he was with Club América adds another dynamic for Herrera to take into account as he prepares ‘El Tri’ for this summer.