AFTER ALL THE POSTURING, the information, the misinformation, the leaked lists, fake lists, and black lists, Mexico’s coach, Miguel “el piojo” Herrera, released his 23 man roster for next month’s World Cup. There were no real surprises, depending on who you listen to. If there was a shock name added to the list – the 23rd player if you will, it was 2-time World Cup veteran Carlos Salcido.
Aside from that – of the 23 players that were named to the team, the folks here who write in this space (ok – me) had 20 of the 23 back in March. We whiffed on Miguel Ponce, Chatón Enríquez, and Patricio Araujo. The ones that Piojo chose in their stead were Luis Montes, JJ Vazquez, and the aforementioned Salcido.
So, here we go – the 23.
Goalkeepers: Memo Ochoa, Jesus Corona, Alfredo Talavera Defenders: Rafa Marquez, Hector Moreno, Maza Rodriguez, Carlos Salcido, Diego Reyes, Miguel Layun, Paul Aguilar, Andres Guardado, Midfielders: Carlos Peña, Juan Carlos Medina, Hector Herrera, Isaac Brizuela, JJ Vazquez, Marco Fabian Forwards: Oribe Peralta, Giovani Dos Santos, Raul Jimenez, Javier Hernandez, Alan Pulido
Depending on whom you choose to believe, the player that was considered the most in doubt to go to Brazil was Giovani. The fire was first lit by Herrera himself when he took over the team, responding to Gio’s comments about being misused on the Tri (he was). There was no conversation when Mexico had to go to middle earth, and for the next few months, a lot folks (including me) were worried that Herrera, being the system coach that he is, had no real place in Piojo’s unwavering 5-3-2 formation. And when Gio came up lame before the only FIFA friendly in March, a lot more voices echoed the same sentiment.
After the announcement, though, Gio let the world know what he thought of being back in a world cup “¡¡Muy feliz!!, ¡uno de los días más felices de mi vida!, ¡Muy feliz de poder representar a mi país en este Mundial!”
No translation necessary.
Herrera mentioned that it was only the journalists who had doubts that Gio’s spot on the team was secure. Of course, one of those journalists that fueled that speculation, one Ruben Rodriguez, seems to have a special relationship with the coach. He even leaked the list last night.
It hardly matters now. But it does pose an interesting question. We have been around professional sports long enough to know what it means when information gets “leaked.” What were Piojo’s motivations? What messages was he sending Gio, if any, and the other players? Herrera played with a chip on his shoulder his entire career and has coached with one as well. Is he trying to illicit the same kind of emotion from players that aren’t really known for it?
The reality is that Mexico is at their best when they do play with something to prove and nothing to lose, especially at a World Cup. They are already playing with house money just by being in Brazil. Is Piojo trying to complete the equation?
He just put his 23 cards on the table.