Mexico will be playing their first of 4 four prep games as they visit newly promoted Leon. It will be nice to talk about futbol again because for weeks Mexico's Olympic campaign was defined by who wasn't going to be on the 18-man squad that will represent the country in the London 2012 Olympic tournament.
After Mexico ripped through CONCACAF's Olympic qualifying, speculation was abundant as to which 3 overage players would join the squad, which would also be reinforced by 3 other players who were age eligible: Carlos Vela and the Dos Santos brothers. A goalkeeper would be likely, as well as a striker. The other spot was a little muddled. Chicharito was thought to be a shoo-in, not only to play on the squad, but to possibly even carry Mexico's flag in the opening ceremonies.
Sir Alex thought differently, though.
Then it was Carlos Vela, citing the need to be available to his new squad (whichever that may be), asked not to be selected not only for the Olympic squad, but also Mexico's slate of June friendlies and qualifiers. Of course, as it always does, speculation was the order of the day for the Mexican media. Why did Carlos opt out? It is the speculation of this particular writer that Vela and Mexico's current coach, Chepo de la Torre, have had issues since Vela was in Chivas' youth system. Something happened between them, and they have yet to patch things up. A real shame, for both Mexico and Vela.
The next high profile player to say no was Jonathan Dos Santos. Citing his desire to compete for a first team slot for Barcelona in the upcoming pre-season, the younger Dos Santos asked not to be considered for the squad. Can't really blame the kid; it would have been hard for him to crack the starting line up with Hector Herrera, who has been nothing short of a huge revelation, and Carlos Salcido, who was brought in as one of the overage reinforcements, marshaling the midfield. With half of Barcelona on an extended vacation after Spain's euro triumph, the time is now for Jona to make an impression. I get that. Nevertheless, it would be nice to see Jona finally represent Mexico in a tournament, which he has yet to do.
In addition to Salcido, who has the versatility to play in the midfield, a wingback, and even as a central defender, Olympic coach Luis Fernando Tena opted for goal-kepper Jesus Corona, and striker Oribe Peralta. Corona minded the nets the majority of Mexico's June program, presumably to keep him in some form of game rhythm before the Olympics. Peralta, on the other hand, did not play a single minute of Mexico's 5 game schedule due to an injury he sustained in the 2nd half of the league final vs. Monterrey. It should be noted, however, that no Mexican scored more goals last season than Peralta.
Giovani Dos Santos will be adding the Olympics to an already impressive list of international tournaments in which he has participated. Gio's level of play for Mexico has been impressive despite the fact he rarely, if ever, was considered by his former coach, Harry Redknapp. A move out of Tottenham is imminent (again!).
Even with his success playing for Mexico, Dos Santos may have to switch positions because of the play of Marco Fabian, who seems to have the appropriate attributes to play the withdrawn forward position in Mexico's system. Gio favors his left foot while Fabian is an excellent switch hitter.
Fabian also understands the virtue of the second, third, and fourth gears, while Gio prefers to jump from first to fifth whenever possible -- not that there is anything wrong with that, and frankly, it is nice to see a Mexican player with those kind of jets. But sometimes attacks flare out like those fireworks that did nothing but flash on my driveway last night. Giovani is better suited to fly up and down the wings, which is where he should stay, so long as Fabian keeps up the torrid level during and after the Olympics.
Mexico will be headed to Spain to continue their preparation, where they will face pre-tournament favorites Spain and the UK before concluding their prep schedule vs fellow tournament entrants, Japan in England.