With Carlos Vela out for a month, Javier Aguirre has a choice to make. His call-ups for Mexico's next two qualifiers will be announced tomorrow, so will he opt for the tried and true... and tired? Is he going to play it safe with someone he has already seen? Or will he take a chance on an uncapped, but seriously talented youngster to fill the roster spot.
The Arsenal forward got clipped on his right ankle in Mexico ’s first Gold Cup game vs. Nicaragua . He was cleared to play in the latter stages of the tournament where he got one goal and one assist in the final. He went back to Arsenal between the final and the qualifier at the Azteca, again with limited action. Vela had not made the bench for any of Arsenal’s first few fixtures and their official website announced last Friday that he would be out for a month due to an injury sustained while on international duty.
So the Bombardero, Aguirre’s super sub, will not be available for Mexico ’s crucial 2 game stretch at Costa Rica and at home to Honduras . Conventional wisdom says that Aguirre will look no further than Chivas’ Alberto Medina. El Venado was on the Gold Cup roster and looked good in the first few games. But as the competition grew a little stiffer, Medina grew more tentative. He dances too much with the ball at his feet, and 9 times out of 10, he is dispossessed. He is not the game changer that Vela is. So if not el Venado, then who?
The Gold Cup’s Super Sub, Pablo Barrera, was curiously left off the roster for the August 12 match at the Azteca. Unfortunaltely for him, he has fallen victim to the Pumas freefall. Barrera has been their lone bright spot, however. He scored their only goal so far in their 5 game losing streak. He is a good option, but there are better.
Christian “El Hobbit” Bermudez got Atlante untracked with a very decent brace in their 3-1 win over Chivas over the weekend. Hobbit is appropriately nicknamed, but there is no denying that he is a very well rounded winger. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in skill, heart, and intelligence. He is the Pat Fischer of Mexican forwards. He does play on the right, though, which, on the Tri at least, is Gio’s domain. Nevertheless, he has earned a look.
Another intriguing option is Toluca's Nestor Calderon. Martin del Palacio named him, as a player to watch earlier this year. Martin was spot on. He is quick, has a fantastic first touch, has excellent ball skills, and is equally comfortable setting the table or scoring. Of the three players mentioned, Calderon is the one who qualities most closely resemble those of Carlos Vela.
The young chorizero is tied for the league lead in scoring with 5 goals and is one of the reasons why Toluca is off to yet another torrid start. He may be only 20, but he is already one of the best wingers in the Mexican Primera. It’s only a matter of time before he becomes a permanent addition to the national team.