Mexico's Locals to Start World Cup Prep

Javier Aguirre announced his preliminary list of local players for a pre-world cup training camp today. For 17 players, the dream of playing in a world cup is still alive, but not certain. For a very unfortunate few, the Turk will come calling before June 1. And for them, the dream will be over, and so tantalizingly close to the end.

All players will miss out on the last month of the season and subsequent liguilla. Some players will also be absent for their clubs' outside competition. That leaves two teams, Chivas (5 players lost) and Pumas (3 lost) scrambling to find some depth. Both teams are doing well locally and have a club competition to boot.

The “big surprise” that Aguirre had hinted may have been a surprise in syntax, but not substance. Oscar Perez will return to the world cup as the 3rd goal-keeper. Stop the presses. No Daniel Ludueña, no Nery Castillo, Sinha, or even Pavel Pardo. Where's the sizzle? BOOORING.

Just as this exercise will be repeated in 31 other nations between now and May 15, there are some unexpected calls, notable omissions, and even a few WTFs? Nevertheless, out of the 17 players, only about 9 or 10 are in line to get their passport stamped with a South African visa, and three of those are the keepers.

Unexpected calls:
Jorge Torres Nilo shouldn’t be a surprise because he was called in for 3 of the 4 friendlies. The Atlas player has come out of nowhere to make a run at the world cup. His main competition will be Paul Aguilar, but Torres Nilo has a leg up because he plays on the left, where Carlos Salcido’s back up postrion remains unclaimed.

Adrian Aldrete made the list, so I am curious if Javier Aguirre and Morelia coach, Tomas Boy, are good friends. Either way, Boy must have been very convincing. Morelia has been one of the steadier teams this year, and Aldrete was a member of the U17 that won it all in 2005. Aldrete was only called for the Iceland game, and didn’t really distinguish himself all that much.

Notable Omissions:

Braulio Luna was called to every one of the friendlies this year and had moments of brilliance in more than one. He seemed to fit the bill of the multi-faceted player that Aguirre favored. Could it be that Vasco only wanted one greybeard on the team? It’s a shame for Luna, who brings more to the table than Aldrete.

Oscar Rojas was another player who seemingly had a spot on the team because of his versatility. But in this case, versatility was not enough as Aguirre will let Torres Nilo and Aguilar fight it out for the remaining wingback spot.

Alberto Medina is the Mexico’s version of the classic “great for the club, s*** for the country.” Just last week, el Venado had a terrific game as Chivas blitzed Santos 6-2. But once he gets that green on, the pilot light goes out. He has been given every opportunity to make a difference with the Tri, so I guess one more shouldn’t be that surprising. Who knows? Maybe this time we’ll get lucky, maybe this time he’ll play, maybe this time, for the first time, venado will put goals away
(many thanks to Kander and Ebb).

After saying he would call 18 players, there are only 17 on this list, fueling speculation that a surprise is still in store. Well, lets go ahead and throw some more speculative fuel. I thought last week that Ricardo Osorio would get his release from Stuttgart, which would allow him to join this camp. But Aguirre called in another CD in Juan Carlos Valenzuela. Unfortunately, Valenzuela has very little chance to make the team as Mexico’s best CDs are all in Europe.

Vasco seems to have also called 5 defenders, 5 midfielders, but only 4 forwards. Could there be another forward in the mist? Will there be a Uruguayan Unibrow sighting? Or is he considering one of the midfield hybrid players a forward, thus making room for Jona Dos Santos?

The team will take the mandated week off after completing matchday 13 this weekend. They report to the National Team training center in Mexico City on April 12.