There have been quite a few new developments since we last spoke about Mexico's World Cup Roster. We had a call-up, a friendly, and a meeting with a player who then declined to be included on the list. So how does it all shake out?
Let's have a look.
GOAL-KEEPERS JANUARY LIST IN - Moises Muñoz, Jesus Corona, Memo Ochoa. KEEP AN EYE ON Alffedo Talavera, Jonathan Orozco. It was Talavera who go the call to mind nets in the friendly vs Korea, and had a couple of fine saves in the only part of the game where Korea threatened. Couple that with the news late last week that Memo Ochoa was injured in practice, and the news does not bode so well for the Ajaccio keeper.
IN - Moises Muñoz, Jesus Corona, Alfedo Talavera.
KEEP AN EYE ON Guillermo Ochoa. Miguel Herrera is touring Europe and having sit-downs with players,and all have yet to play for Piojo in his new role. It would be hard to imagine Piojo entrusting his nets to a keeper that he barely knows, much less seen play. If Ochoa isn't going to start, it would be hard to imagine seeing him going to Brazil, but it is very conceivable to see him staying put and entertaining his suitors.
CENTRAL DEFENDERS JANUARY LIST IN - Rafa Marquez, Maza Rodriguez, Hector Moreno, Diego Reyes, Hugo Ayala, Jhonny Magallon KEEP AN EYE ON ??? Mexico seems to have rediscovered a style under Piojo and it has given the players a lot more confidence. That said, the backline is still a huge question mark, and have given Mexico fans plenty of reasons to keep the nitro patches handy.
Miguel Herrera announced the first player on his roster: Rafa Marquez, who will also captain the team. He also brought Diego Reyes to San Antonio to see where the young Porto prospect stands. The move revealed two things: Diego Reyes is not playing much at Porto if he was allowed to travel on a non-FIFA date, and Piojo Herrera is so desperate to shore up the back line that he was willing to take Reyes' temperature after a season of playing reserve side footy.
Needless to say, if you are a Mexican central defender, and you have a pulse, you might have a shot to go to Brazil.
IN - Rafa Marquez, Hector Moreno, Maza Rodriguez, Diego Reyes
KEEP AN EYE ON Nestor Araujo. The youngster plays for Santos and has limited international experience, but has plenty of Liga MX experience despite being 23.
SUPER SLEEPER Chivas' Pato Araujo. Hey, why not? He has as good a chance as anyone else.
There are 2 spots up for grabs. Any takers?
WINGBCAKS JANUARY LIST IN - Miguel Layun, Paul Aguilar, Edwin Hernandez KEEP AN EYE ON Efrain Juarez
With Aguilar and Layun's spots seemingly secure, Piojo opted to see what other options he had on the wings last week in San Antonio. Rodolfo Pizarro, the surprise call-up from Pachuca, went the full 90, but had little impact on the game. Miguel Ponce played 45 minutes on the left and assisted on the first goal. Like Layun, Ponce is more offensive minded, and has great command of the ball with both feet. That is definitely a plus in his favor. His 2nd half replacement, Jorge Torres Nilo, on the other hand, is probably the best Mexican defender on the wing.
IN Layun, Aguilar, Torres Nilo
KEEP AN EYE ON The 4th spot may well come down to Ponce and how well Andres Guardado does at his new club, Bayer Leverkusen. Andres has the experience, but has been in a year-long slump. Ponce has had a good start at Toluca and can play either flank. Guardado has yet to master playing with his right foot.
MIDFIELDERS JANUARY LIST IN - Carlos Peña, Luis Montes, Juan Carlos Medina, Jesus Escoboza, Javier Aquino. KEEP AN EYE ON Jorge Enriquez, Marco Fabian
If any other player would be a shoo-in like Rafa Marquez, it is Carlos Peña. He has had a great start at Leon, and has played consistently since he took over the midfield back in October. The question remains, will his Leon midfield mates join him? Luis Montes has a lethal shot and great vision, but he might be a step slow and a head shorter than an ideal midfielder in the international game. Isaac Brizuela got a surprise call-up last week advantage. El Conejito may not have Montes' shooting skills, but he has everything else, including speed with the ball at his feet. The DM is still Juan Carlos Medina's to lose.
IN - Peña, Montes, Medina, Brizuela, Aquino
KEEP AN EYE ON Jorge Enriquez got off to a very promising start before his old buddy, the injury bug, bit him in the butt. He is in the midst of his 3-week recovery. A change of scenery seems to have done Marco Fabian a bit of good, but anything less than one dazzling performance after another may not be enough to earn him a spot. Hector Herrera was sent back to Porto B, so his World Cup is in jeopardy.
SUPER SLEEPER David Cabrera. The Pumas man has a ways to go before gets back to the level of play he showed before two knee injuries. But we cannot neglect pointing out that he was the starting DM before the ridiculous Copa America fiasco, and the Pre-Olimpico before he got hurt. He has tremendous upside, but the clock is working against him.
FORWARDS JANUARY LIST IN - Oribe Peralta, Giovani Dos Santos, Raul Jimenez, Javier Hernandez KEEP AN EYE ON Alan Pulido
Once again, the fantasy of seeing Carlos Vela and Giovani Dos Santos on the pitch at the same time will remain just that - a fantasy. The Real Sociedad forward declined to be part of Mexico's World Cup campaign, just as he declined to play in the Hex. While this door closes, does this mean another door opens for Alan Pulido? Tigres' striker has yet to find the nets in Liga MX, but he did secure a hat-trick in his senior side debut. Oribe Peralta has also had a slow start to his Liga MX campaign, but when he wears Mexico green, his scoring record is second to none. Gio's level of play has been big reason why Villarreal is within sniffing distance of a Champion League spot in their return to Spain's top flight.
Raul Jimenez did not get called up for the San Antonio game, but Piojo has seen his progression over the past two years. He'll be going to Brazil.
KEEP AN EYE ON While Mexico has solid depth at the forward position, what they don't have is a big-bodied target forward. But they would if Aldo de Nigris is added to the mix.
SUPER SLEEPER Nery Cast... Yeah, no. That ain't gonna happen.
23 as of February Goalkeepers: Moises Muñoz, Jesus Corona, Alfredo Talavera Defenders: Rafa Marquez, Hector Moreno, Hugo Ayala, Maza Rodriguez, Nestor Araujo, Diego Reyes Miguel Layun, Paul Aguilar, Andres Guardado, Jorge Torres Nilo Midfielders: Carlos Peña, Juan Carlos Medina, Javier Aquino, Isaac Brizuela, Jorge Enriquez Forwards: Oribe Peralta, Giovani Dos Santos, Raul Jimenez, Javier Hernandez, Alan Pulido
New to the list: Talavera, N. Araujo, Torres Nilo, Brizuela, Enriquez, Pulido
Dropped: Ochoa, Magallon, Herrera, E. Hernandez, Escoboza, Montes
We'll talk again after the March friendly.