Written by Alex Baker
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio has kept things close to home in terms of his team selection for a pair of upcoming friendlies that will see El Tri face off against New Zealand and Panama over the next week.
Despite his red-hot form for Bayer Leverkusen, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is just one of the big-name European-based players to have been left out of the squad. Also absent are Guillermo Ochoa (Granada), Hector Moreno (PSV Eindhoven), Jesus “Tecatito” Corona (Porto), Miguel Layun (Porto), Hector Herrera (Porto), and Andres Guardado (PSV Eindhoven).
Of the big players for El Tri currently plying their trades in Europe, only Villarreal’s Jonathon Dos Santos and Marco Fabian of Eintracht Frankfurt have been included.
In the absence of the European heavy-hitters, Osorio has primarily called up North American-based players with Giovani Dos Santos making his return to the squad. Dos Santos raised eyebrows last summer when he turned down a call-up to represent Mexico in the Copa America Centenario and choose to remain with his team LA Galaxy instead.
The 27-year-old Dos Santos has been on a good run of form for the Galaxy, netting 14 goals and registering 12 assists in 26 starts. Whether or not Dos Santos will be a guaranteed starter, or what position he’ll be deployed at – for Galaxy he’s been seen at striker, attacking midfielder, or winger – remains to be seen.
But with the likes of Chicharito, Layun and Guardado left out, there’s a big opening for Dos Santos to stake his claim to regaining a regular spot in the side. The former Barcelona player’s inclusion is a hopeful first step in seeing a player who is undeniably one of the most talented in the Mexico player pool restored to the team.
Santos, who will be making his first appearance with the national side since winning the Gold Cup in 2015, is the one Major League Soccer player in a team predominantly made up of Liga MX talent. Don Santos’ brother Jonathon will also be involved for the first time since 2015, while Chivas striker Alan Pulido will be making his first appearance for Mexico since the 2014 World Cup.
Joining Pulido in the attack will be Oribe Peralta who has scored four goals and made two assists in seven appearances for Club America this season.
The team gathered for training camp in Mexico City over the weekend and will arrive in the United States this week to face New Zealand in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday October 8 and Panama three days later in Chicago.
The pair of friendlies is part of the preparation for El Tri’s important World Cup qualifier against the United States next month.
Goalkeepers: Moises Munoz (Club America), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Rodolfo Cota (Chivas)
Defenders: Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Hedgardo Marin (Chivas), Oswaldo Alanis (Chivas), Jordan Silva (Toluca), Jesus Duenas (Tigres), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres), Adrian Aldrete (Cruz Azul)
Midfielders: Luis Robles (Atlas), Jesus Molina (Santos Laguna), Jonathon Dos Santos (Villarreal), Orbelin Pineda (Chivas), Erick Gutierrez (Pachuca)
Forwards: Elias Hernandez (Leon), Angel Sepulveda (Queretaro), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Isaac Brizuela (Chivas), Giovani Dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt), Oribe Peralta (Club America), Alan Pulido (Chivas)