30-MAN ROSTERS are being released all over the world. With a month to go before Brazil and Croatia kick off the World Cup, 7 players on these provisional lists are going to be doing the same thing as you and I: be a spectator.
Consider then what Miguel Herrera did last week in naming his 23 man roster to the tournament (and not 26 or 27 like his two predecessors). Herrera was part of Mexico’s qualification campaign 20 years ago, when Mexico punched a ticket for the tournament for the first time since 1978. But he was not part of the tournament itself, a crushing blow that, by his own admission, haunts him to this day. A club where he would rather not be a member.
Jaime Lozano was driven to tears when Ricardo Lavolpe gave him the bad news in the Estadio Azteca locker room in 2006. Jonathan Dos Santos’ father had a series of media meltdowns when his son was the final player cut before the roster deadline. Who needs the locker room discord when the final cuts are made? I am convinced Giovani and Jonathan Dos playing being on the same team would have been a huge moral boost for the whole team, not just the brothers. But that was the start of Vasco’s temporary insanity, which is a topic for another day.
Piojo did have to name 7 more players because of FIFA regulations, but this was done after the fact. In fact, Mexico is having a relatively normal warm-up to the tournament. The last two World Cups saw the Mexican side get together almost 2 months before their first game. Local teams had to make do without their national team players, which made for very lethargic liguillas. As much as we would like to think that the early training camps were done for sporting reasons, they were organized as much (or more so, depending on whom you ask) for commercial reasons. Sponsor events, commercial & promotional filmshoots, SUM contracts… it is a wonder they had any time to practice at all.
This time around, Herrera has to wait for his players’ seasons to be over (and then the FIFA-mandated rest period) to get his full complement of players. He has a handful with him now, will get a few more next week, and will finally have his complete team right before the first of 4 scheduled friendlies on May 28 at the Azteca vs Israel. They may not have as much time for the palm-greasing and the film shoots, but that SUM contract…. Three more games in Arlington, Chicago and Boston complete the itinerary before the team flies down to Brazil.
Some players are going to log a lot of frequent flier miles. When you marry for money, you pay for it.
A sad bit of news to pass along... a colleague, mentor and good friend of mine lost her battle to cancer this week. Carol Van Norman was a television graphics guru and spent 30 years working on television trucks and studios all over the world. She even made a contribution to the world of soccer as she helped design the graphics package for the USA 94 broadcasts. She was the one who made sure that special characters were available so that players’ names were spelled correctly in their native tongue. It was a nice touch, but just another day in the office for Carol. She will be missed.