Is Guardado the Odd Man Out?

Andres Guardado has been noticeably absent in some key friendlies

When Mexico finally was able to field its complete team at Wembley, there was one notable absence in the starting line-up. Andres Guardado, who has been a fundamental member of the Tri since his appearance in Leipzig 4 years ago was not among the starting XI. Aguirre opted for a 4-3-3, and his three midfielders, Gerardo Torrado, Rafael Marquez, and Efrain Juarez, were defined more for how they play defensively than how they push up.

Aguirre was experimenting, of course. Rafa had been a back line defender for a while, but had played the holding midfielder role before. Juarez played on the right wing for both Pumas and Mexico (although he did play in the middle in the U20 in Canada).

Rafa was terrific in the middle, but Juarez was a true revelation; a classic box to box guy. The Italian press called him "an unpredictable and uncatchable demon of a midfielder". Paul Aguilar had taken Juarez’ spot on the back line. He was serviceable, but his unforced error at Wembley led to England’s first goal. Where does that leave Guardado, though?

For now, it’s on the bench.

Will he stay there on Friday? I am not so sure. The conventional wisdom says his style of play is not suited for a 4-3-3, unless he plays as a winger up top. I say he is imminently coachable, and he will make the necessary adjustments to play where he is needed.

Javier Aguirre has modernized the Tri’s preparation. One of the changes he has brought is a conditioning program that monitors and rates players’ fitness after practices and games. It could be that Guardado has not been able to physically handle the demands of covering more ground as a box to box guy, and that is how he is grading out. Thus, the limited playing time. But that's just my opinion. What does Andres think?

"I want to play, I want to show what I can do and how much I have learned over the past four years. I have gained a lot of experience, and I want to help the team." He also added, "Obviously, I don't like being on the bench, but to be mad or have a gripe with Javier? Far from it. It's his decision and I respect that. If he sees that other players are better suited, then I will support them. I will support my teammates both on and off the pitch, not hurt the team."

So for now, he is relegated to the bench. And if he is an option off the bench, then what an option.

But I have a feeling he'll be on the pitch from the get go.