Aguirre Chooses his Troops, Now its Time to Anoint His Captain

Andrés Guardado is ready to lead Mexico

Javier Aguirre presented his list of call-ups (through a proxy – el vasco is still in Europe) yesterday for their upcoming qualifiers at El Salvador and home to TnT.

Back on the list is Chicago’s Cuauhtémoc Blanco. In 2001, Aguirre was given all the credit for salvaging Mexico’s world cup campaign. But it was Blanco who was the beast of burden. He’s 36 now, so his back or his legs may not be as strong as they were 7 years ago.

There are some new names that join the fray: Morelia’s Miguel Sabah earns the call by being the top national goal scorer. Carlos Esquivel has been one of the most consistent performers on the most consistent team. He led the league in assists.

Some players are conspicuously absent: Oswaldo Sanchez was stepped over in 2001 when Aguirre came to the rescue, and it looks like he’ll be stepped over again. It may not even be Memo Ochoa who gets the nod. Jesus Corona has been by far the best Mexican keeper over the past few months. He may not fly as well as Ochoa, but he commands his area much better.

Vasco has also decided to exclude Matias Vuoso, Sinha, and Leandro Augusto. Some players are back in the fray after a long absence: Maza Rodriguez gives Mexico’s back line the height and muscle it sorely lacks, and Israel Castro is back after a very conspicuous time away.

It would have been nice to see some of the players Aguirre called for his meet and greet minicamp last week like Atlas’ Edgar Pacheco and Puebla’s Jose Luis Noriega, but understandable. Frankly, as talented as these two players are, they are still largely untested. Aguirre has this summer’s Gold Cup to see what they can do.

The next big choice Aguirre has to make is anoint his skipper in the absence of Rafa Marquez. Mexico’s dearth of leadership has been a big problem over the past few years. Rafa is a great player, there is no disputing that. But he receives low marks for his leadership skills. He has abandoned his team in the past, made terrible lapses in judgement, and occasionally plays like an uncontrollable thug. Not the sort of player that teammates can rally around.

This blogger’s ideal captain is one whose level of play, gives his absolute best effort on the pitch, and is more than willing to hoist his team on his shoulders. Over the past 3 years, there is only one player in Mexico who has exhibited those qualities, not just for his National team, but his local club as well. Andrés Guardado is clearly Mexico’s best player and most consistent performer. He has led Deportivo la Coruña to the cusp of a Champions League birth. His coach, Miguel Angel Lotina has called him indispensable, and it would take a superoferta to pry him away from Depor. He is indispensable on the Tri as well, and now it’s his standard that his teammates have to match. All the Vasco has to do is make it official.