It has been almost two weeks since Mexico had the only full-squad dress rehearsal before Miguel "Piojo" Herrera whittles down his list of players to the 23 chosen ones. After the scoreless draw vs Nigeria, we were all able to make some snap judgements. But Herrera has been afforded the luxury of one last look, thanks to the folks at US Soccer, who suggested that the two sides play a friendly in Glendale on April 2.
With only local players at his disposal, a few players may have their only chance to impress the coach, if they are called up at all. So with that in mind, let's take a look at the Final 23, March edition. Who has moved up? And who has moved down? Which kid is in the picture? Who is seeing a trip to Brazil slip through his fingers?
GOAL-KEEPERS FEBRUARY LISTMoises Muñoz, Jesus Corona, Alfedo Talavera..
Ochoa got the start and was more than impressive backing up Mexico's slow, leaky defense in the Nigeria friendly. Herrera praised the keeper who has spent the better part of the last three years being the best player on a bad team in Ajaccio. The Corsicans will finally make the drop, but if it wasn't for Ochoa, it would have happened a lot sooner.
IN - Jesus Corona, Alfedo Talavera, Guillermo Ochoa.
KEEP AN EYE ON Moises Muñoz. In a 4-horse race for win, place, or show, Moises is currently out of the money as he and his club have been slumping. But his relationship with the coach may still be enough.
CENTRAL DEFENDERS FEBRUARY LISTRafa Marquez, Hector Moreno, Diego Reyes, Maza Rodriguez
The midfield did Mexico's defense no favors as the Super Eagles ran right through them and then right past back line. Speed is not this group's strong suit, so positioning and angle's will have to do. Needless to say, an errant pass from the midfield will be leaving this group flat-footed more often than fans want to admit.
IN - Rafa Marquez, Hector Moreno, Maza Rodriguez, Diego Reyes
KEEP AN EYE ON Maza Rodriguez. The surfer dude from Mazatlan was benched this weekend as America's coach looked for ways to stop a losing skid. And his decision making has been called into question quite a bit. If Maza sets foot on any Brazilian pitch, then something has gone horribly wrong.
WINGBCAKS FEBRUARY LISTLayun, Aguilar, Torres Nilo
Andres Guardado was the beneficiary of Miguel Layun's injury and got to plat the full 90 against Nigeria. He was a little shaky on the defensive side. but what he lacked in consistency on the pitch he more than made up for in the amount of heart and desire he showed. He wants to go to Brazil. Paul Aguilar was also shaky on the defense, but did not make up for it with any kind of hustle at all. They say Aguilar is one of Piojo's untouchables, and he certainly played like it.
IN Layun, Guardado, Aguilar, Miguel Ponce
KEEP AN EYE ON It was a shame that Javier Aquino did not get a look at wingback in Atlanta. The pesky little guy plays glued to the touch-line at Villarreal, and his defensive cover skills are underrated. It might be his only shot to make the team because the midfield could get crowded.
MIDFIELDERS FEBRUARY LISTPeña, Montes, Medina, Brizuela, Aquino
If the first half hour of the Nigeria game was any indication, Miguel Herrera may want to re-think whom he wants to line up in the midfield. Juan Carlos Medina, another of the so-called untouchbales, had no answer for the stronger, faster Nigerians. It wasn't until a few aggressive challenges by one Hector Herrera did Mexico taka back a little territory in the middle. And when The Porto midfielder teamed with Carlos "Gullit" Peña, Mexico's midfield finally took control of the game. Another of the chosen few, Luis Montes, also looked to be out of his league against bigger, quicker opposition.
IN - Peña, Medina, Brizuela, Herrera
KEEP AN EYE ON Marco Fabian seems to have found his form at Cruz Azul, scoring another fine double for the cementeros over the weekend. It is obvious to this casual observer, at least, that Marco Fabian possesses qualities that are just not prevalent in Mexican soccer. If only Herrera would see it that way as well.
Just when Hector Herrera seemed to have found his sea legs at Porto, acoaching change left sent him back to the bench. Too bad. The Gullit - Herrera pairing looked very promising
SUPER SLEEPER Jorge Enriquez. Chaton is back from injury and has been a bright spot as Chivas' distances itself from its awful apertura season. He was all over the field in their 1-0 win over the defending champs - Man of the Match for some. He is another big, strong, midfielder that would match up well with the opposing players in Mexico's group. Medina? Not so much.
FORWARDS FEBRUARY LIST Oribe Peralta, Giovani Dos Santos, Raul Jimenez, Javier Hernandez
Oribe Peralta has started to heat up. And that is good thing, because everyone else is ice cold. Javier Hernandez is still on the bench. Raul Jimenez and Alan Pulido have not done much to merit the kind of consideration they are getting, and Gio Dos Santos is back from injury for Villarreal. Oribe has his spot cemented. Gio should as well. Chicharito could stand to see a little action before he goes to Brazil. And if Pulido and Jimenez are being considered, then they may want to score a few goals to justify the Piojo infatuation.
KEEP AN EYE ON Gio Dos Santos has a habit of finishing the season strong. If he does so again this year, then a paring with him and Peralta should be on the field when Mexico takes the field against the Indomitable Lions
23 as of March Goalkeepers: Memo Corona, Jesus Corona, Alfredo Talavera Defenders: Rafa Marquez, Hector Moreno, Maza Rodriguez, Pato Araujo, Diego Reyes Miguel Layun, Paul Aguilar, Andres Guardado, Miguel Ponce Midfielders: Carlos Peña, Juan Carlos Medina, Hector Herrera, Isaac Brizuela, Jorge Enriquez, Marco Fabian Forwards: Oribe Peralta, Giovani Dos Santos, Raul Jimenez, Javier Hernandez, Alan Pulido
We will know a lot more after the Yank Friendly in April.