Since the start, the play (or lack thereof) of several of the Mexican expatriates had a lot of folks wondering what there status in the eyes of Mexico National Team Coach, Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre was.
Like many coaches before him (and surely just as many after), Chepo fed us the standard cliche
I'll take players who are playing at their best, but won't take those who have not seen the field much, whether they play in Europe or not
Seems reasonable in theory, but what about practice? Let's take a look at a few case studies.
Nery Castillo He teased us so much in the Copa America 2007, that a lot of fans were clamoring for a Nery inclusion in the 2010 World Cup despite 2 1/2 years of inactivity. Why? He possessed a skill-set seldom seen in Mexican Futbol. There was no World Cup for Nery, though, and he continued to languish, now for a 4th team since his departure from Olimpiakos. Even the staunchest Nery supporter seemed to come to realization that Nery was done. "We'll always have Venezuela."
But then something happened in 2012. His club Aris Salonika made a coaching change. Newly minted coach, the Portuguese Manuel Machado, saw something in Nery and pulled the right combination of levers. The result, Nery scored more goals in 5 game span than he had in the entire 4 1/2 years combined. He became the first Mexican to score back-to-back braces in league games since Hugo Sanchez.
Was it enough to warrant the white smoke of a National Team Call-up? Not yet. Apparently six weeks of good form still is not enough escape out of a 4 year black hole. Stay tuned.
Efrain Juarez & Pablo Barrera To say that their foray into La Liga has been a disappointment is an affront to the word disappointment. Juarez, in particular, was such a disaster that he cut from the team once Javier Aguirre was relieved of his coaching duties. Juarez is back at Celtic, licking his wounds.
Pablo Barrera has done a little better but not much. He is on the fringes of the game plan for the new Zaragoza coach, Manolo Jimenez, who is trying desperately to keep the Maños afloat in La Liga.
Despite their inactivity, coupled with poor from when they did manage to get on the pitch, both players have been called up for Mexico's friendly in Miami. Barrera's best soccer this year has been with Mexico, and Juarez plays a position where there is a paucity of talent.
Giovani Dos Santos Every January, it seems like we go through the same ritual. Where is Gio going to go? Cuz he ain't gonna get anything at Tottenham. Gio's relationship with the coach and front office has allegedly disintegrated beyond repair. Curiously, Tottenham trashes him publicly, yet places a premium on his selling price. Gio, of course, has done himself no favors either by taking a "la Liga or bust" position. Since Tottenham would rather sit him out than sell him off, any chance he sees the field at all for the remainder of the year will be wearing either green or black.
Gio has been called up, whether he is playing or not, for the past few years, so it is no surprise that he will be in Miami.
Carlos Vela Rumors were rampant that Carlos Vela had committed an offense so heinous, it would leave him in Chepo's permanent dog house. Chepo's unwillingness to call him up for the Gold Cup, or any other national team duty for the rest of 2011 only added fuel to the speculation.
Some schools of thought believe that he has more upside than both Chicharito and Gio, but, alas, has never shown it on the pitch. Vela, who is in San Sebastian on a loan to Real Sociedad, seems to have finally turned the corner. Over the past few months, he has played the best soccer of his life, and went on record last week to say that he would prefer the loan be made permanent. He followed that up with one goal, and an assist in Real Sociedad's 2-0 win over Sevilla.
And he finally got the nod from Chepo.
Rounding out the list of Expats are Javier Hernandez, Hector Moreno, who is having a terrific season at Español; Maza Rodriguez, who had recently been hampered by an injury at Stuttgart; Jonathan Dos Santos, who will be on the senior side roster for the rest of the year at Barcelona; Andres Guardado has become Depor's undisputed leader and has them poised to return to La Liga; Memo Ochoa is enjoying a fine season at Ajaccio and is a big reason why they are just outside the relegation zone in Ligue 1, and Rafa Marquez.
The local call-ups should be announced soon.
Mexico will be playing Colombia next week in Miami, which will be one of the few times that Mexico will not have a decided home-field advantage in their US friendlies.