I will be "off the grid", so to speak, for the next week or so.
So I figured why not take the time to assess Javier Aguirre’s possible final 23-man roster. Who’s in? Who’s out? Who is running out time to make an impression?
This is the only position where FIFA mandates a minimum amount for the world cup. Javier Aguirre has called up and played Luis Ernesto Michel and Jonathan Orozco. But they really weren’t threatened at all, so he didn’t see much. Guillermo Ochoa has not been called, but it still a safe bet to be on the field in Soccer City on June 11
Ochoa, Michel, Orozco
Jesus Corona. He has not been playing for Cruz Azul and had some off the field issues. He picked the wrong time to get in a funk.
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Moises Muñoz. The Morelia netminder is having a terrific season. He allowed a league low 15 goals in the A09, and so far in the BC2010, only 4 goals have gotten by him, including 7 clean sheets. Libertadores? That is a different story altogether. The whole team has struggled, and continued poor performances in the tournament might hold him back. Either way, he should definitely get a call in these next two friendlies.
There is a lot of depth at this position. So much that it might allow Aguirre to place Rafael Marquez in front of the defense. Most of the defenders play in Europe, and Efrain Juarez will likely be joining them very soon. Even though he has not played very much at all this year at Stuttgart, Ricardo Osorio has been very solid in the middle for Mexico. Maza Rodriguez has been the most improved, and Hector Moreno provides solid depth.
Marquez, Osorio, Carlos Salcido, Juarez, Rodriguez, Moreno, Jonny Magallon
Hugo Ayala. The Atlas defender is good, but not good enough to jump in front of the group in front of him. With most of the defenders likely playing their last world cups, Ayala will be a factor for Brasil2014.
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Paul Aguilar – The Pachuca player has the skills, but lacks the international experience. But he will be one of many who are vying to back up the flank defense. Aguilar plays on the right, if he can show he can handle the left, then it is his to lose.
Another position where there is a lot of depth and talent. Aguirre may only need to take 6 midfielders because he seems to favor a 4-3-3 hybrid. There are a lot of hats in this group. He can cover the DMs with Rafa, the Forwards with Giovani, Israel Castro can fall back to defend, and Pablo Barrera can play on either flank.
Gerardo Torrado, Israel Castro, Andres Guardado, Giovani Dos Santos, Pablo Barrera
Alberto Medina. For whatever reason, Alberto Medina just doesn’t play well for Mexico, and he has been given plenty of opportunities. It is too bad for him.
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Braulio Luna has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance and is playing some of the best futbol of his life. But he has to keep it up, because Morelia’s Elias Hernandez is another young player who is having a terrific season. His only drawback is that he is not as versatile as Luna. One to definitely keep an eye on.
Mexico has had good strikers in the past, but they have lacked that complete striker. One that can score by any means necessary. Left foot, right foot, head, chest, tukus, whatever. Javier Hernandez has shown that he can be that guy. But he hasn’t shown it when the stakes are highest. Everyone thinks that Cuauhtémoc Blanco is out of gas. But he’ll be ready. Guille Franco and Carlos Vela will be in South Africa as well. The question is, who will join these guys? Miguel Sabah? Aldo de Nigris? Nery Castillo?
Blanco, Hernandez, Vela, Franco
Enrique Esqueda. He got injured at the worst moment, but it would have been hard for him to make the final 23.
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Miguel Sabah has yet to be called up this year, but he is scoring goals for Morelia. He should get a long look these next few friendlies.
Adolfo Bautista. Another player who has caught a second wind. He has been instrumental in Chivas’ recent dominance and has all the tools to be a difference maker. Where he lacks, though, is in the most important tool of them all: the noggin.
If he can maintain his good form, he might be that last guy to make the roster.
Jonathan Dos Santos. He showed glimpses of his prodigious talent in Pasadena last week. But he is also very green. It’s not his fault that he has had a speckle of PT at Barcelona. But we can’t dismiss that he practices against that team every week. What other 18 year-olds get to do that?
Nery Castillo. Three years ago, Castillo seemed to be the answer to all of Mexico’s troubles. Personal tragedy and bad career decisions have taken a sever toll him. He has not played a complete 90 minutes in a very long time. If he can somehow get his wits together and find any kind of rhythm, he might sneak his way onto the team. Otherwise, it’s wait until 2014.