LOS ANGELES – Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio has called in his big European guns for next week’s World Cup qualifier against the United States. Of the 23 members of the squad that will face the USMNT Friday, 13 of them ply their trades in Europe as opposed to just nine who play currently in Liga MX.
Red-hot LA Galaxy attacker Giovani Dos Santos rounds out the squad. Dos Santos has experience playing in Europe’s top leagues as do two of the Liga MX players on the squad; namely Rafa Marquez and Javier Aquino.
While some call-ups are to be expected like that of Bayer Leverkusen striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and PSV’s Andres Guardado, the return of Carlos Vela to the squad is something of an eyebrow-raiser.
Vela hasn’t featured for El Tri in over a year and actually ruled himself out of the squad for the 2014 World Cup. The 27-year-old has three goals in 10 La Liga appearances for Real Sociedad this season.
The 23 players represent about the strongest squad available to Osorio at the moment, signaling a clear intent by the manager to try and reverse a trend that’s seen Mexico lose all four of the previous qualifiers its contested against the U.S. in Columbus, Ohio.
Of the formidable array of attacking talent Osorio has summoned, Hernandez would seem the one guaranteed starter. The coach often deploys a 3-4-3 formation with a front three, but also could opt for a 3-3-3-1 with Chicharito as the lone striker.
Dos Santos is having in his words, “the best season” of his career for LA Galaxy right now. With 14 goals and 12 assists, the Barcelona academy product has been at the heart of the Galaxy’s drive to playoffs and is likely to start on the wing or underneath Hernandez.
Osorio has a wealth of other good options to round out the attack with Pachuca’s Hirving Lozano, Porto’s Jesus Corona and Vela all potentially in line for a starting berth against the Yanks.
The coach also has a number of good options at center-back, which could prove particularly handy in trying to neutralize the aerial threat the U.S. provides. All seven of the recognized center-backs in the team – Diego Reyes, Hector Moreno, Carlos Salcedo, Hugo Ayala, Rafa Marquez, Nestor Araujo and Oswaldo Alanis – are known for being good in the air, as is keeper Alfredo Talavera.
All in all, it’s a team that’s absolutely stacked with talent and on paper anyway, certainly has the goods to beat the U.S. But the Yanks have a formidable record in Columbus and despite the impressive names on the team sheet, Osorio will be taking nothing for granted as he readies his squad for the sold-out kickoff of the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying.
Full Squad List:
Goalkeepers: Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Guillermo Ochoa (Granada), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul)
Defenders: Rafa Marquez (Atlas), Hector Moreno (PSV), Oswaldo Alanis (Chivas), Miguel Layun (Porto), Carlos Salcedo (Fiorentina), Diego Reyes (Espanyol), Nestor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Hugo Ayala (Tigres)
Midfielders: Hector Herrara (Porto), Jesus Duenas (Tigres), Jonathon dos Santos (Villarreal), Andres Guardado (PSV), Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Orbelin Pineda (Chivas), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Forwards: Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Jesus Corona (Porto), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Oribe Peralta (Club America)
Written by Alex Baker. Photos by ISI.