It's the end of the year, and around here that only means one thing: cedar fever. I'll spare you the details of having to deal with what I consider the habanero pepper of tree pollen, so instead we'll discuss the 2012 wishlist - the sunshine pumps made earlier this year. …that Mexico qualifies for the Olympics. After not qualifying for the tournament the last two times the qualifiers were held in the US, Mexico not only qualified for the Olympics, they won the Gold Medal for the first time in their history. In so doing, several players raised their profiles significantly: Midfielder Hector Herrera seemingly came out of nowhere (well, Pachuca) to become the side's biggest revelation, and speculation about his move to Europe has been elevated from "when" to "where." Diego Reyes has parlayed steady performances in both the U20 and the Olympics into a move to Porto next year. But both pale in comparison to the most prestigious honor of them all - the 2012 Concacaf Player of the Year - won this year by the Gold Medal match hero, Oribe Peralta.
…that Marco Fabian and Jonathan Dos Santos consolidate themselves on the Tri senior squad. Marco Fabian was sensational in the lead up to the Olympics on the U23 squad, scoring a dozen goals in two tournaments that culminated with Mexico wins. Despite giving up his spot to Gio Dos Santos at the Olympics, he made solid contributions to the squad. His performances earned him on spot on the senior side, which, unfortunately for him, he was unable to reconcile because of a separated shoulder he sustained during a Chivas match at León. He'll have plenty of opportunities in 2012.
As for Jona, his on-again, off-again, (mostly off-again) relationship with Mexico, continued in 2012. He looked good starting in the only FIFA-sanctioned friendly in the Spring, only to spurn Mexico's Olympic side in the summer. With more competition at his spot on the National Team, coupled with the fact that he still has yet to get any kind of regularity at Barcelona, Jona might have to wait until this summer's Gold Cup to make any kind of impression.
…that Carlos Vela becomes a full-time player… somewhere. He did - at Real Sociedad, where Arsenal unloaded him. And it paid off for Vela. His 2012 has been sensational: he has not only become a full time starter, he is Sociedad's play-maker and has netted nearly 20 goals for the San Sebastian side this calendar year. He might not have the goal scoring instinct of a Chicharito, but there are those who think he might be a more complete offensive player. He is finally getting a chance to prove it on the field. That said, he would be a great complement to Hernandez - let's see if he gets a chance to prove it for his country. We think he will.
…that Club America becomes relevant again. Love 'em or hate 'em, Liga MX is just better when Club America is playing well, or at least, better than they have been. America is relevant again thanks to Miguel Herrera. They may not be as flashy as some Americanistas would like their team to play, but America has improved from one season to the next. They made the liguilla in both 2012 seasons, bowing out of both at the Semi Final stage. Now if only we can get Pumas and Chivas going again.
…that Chivas makes another deep run in the Libertadores. Speaking of Chivas, they are the current Liga MX hot mess right now. No, they did not make a deep run in the Libertadores, they did not even escape their group. Their owner fired his consultant electronically via an e-mail account that is rarely checked, nearly got into a fight with a fan, signed a player who only a few years earlier said was not worthy of wearing the uniform, and has as many championships in 10 years as Xolos do. And they have been in the league for 18 months.
…that Angel Reyna finds his footing. He had a decent spell at Monterrey, meriting some call-ups to the Tri, where he also had some moments. He now moves to Pachuca, where he was once considered a can't miss prospect in his younger days.
…that Pumas win the Concachampions. At this point, I would just be happy with a three game win-streak.
Enjoy the Holiday - here is a little taste of Christmas time in Austin. Cedar free, I promise.