A New Look For El Tri

In Mexico's first game since the end of the 2014 World Cup, Miguel Herrera will likely rely on experienced players with only a few youngsters to face La Roja
by Brendan Doherty   |   Thursday, September 04, 2014

 MEX Matters - column on Liga MX, El Tri & Mexican futbol.

The following are the players called in by Mexican Men’s National Team head coach Miguel “Piojo” Herrera for friendly matches against Chile on September 6 and against Bolivia on September 9.

GK: Moises Munoz (Club America), Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio)

DEF: Paul Aguilar (Club America), Oswaldo Alanis (Santos Laguna), Hugo Ayala (Tigres UANL), Miguel Angel Herrera (Pachuca), Miguel Layun (Club America), Hiram Mier (Monterrey), Miguel Ponce (Toluca), Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Luis Venegas (Atlas)

MID: Javier Aquino (Rayo Vallecano), Marco Fabian (Cruz Azul), Andres Guardado (PSV), Hector Herrera (Porto), Rodolfo Pizarro (Pachuca), Antonio Rios (Toluca), Jose Juan “Gallito” Vazquez (Leon)

FWD: Giovani dos Santos (Villarreal), Javier “Chuletita” Orozco (Santos Laguna), Oribe Peralta (America), Erick “Cubo” Torres (Chivas USA)

With no Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Raul Jimenez, Carlos “Gullit” Pena, Rafael Marquez, or Hector Moreno this Mexico squad may seem rather barren.

In place of those established players, Piojo has called in a number of players hungry to impress, as well as several hoping to consolidate their position going forward.

Starting in the back, Memo Ochoa is likely to start against Chile. While Piojo has history with Munoz, I doubt anyone would argue who the better goalkeeper is, even if Ochoa hasn't started yet for his new club Malaga.

Piojo will probably continue his 5-man defense with 3 centerbacks and 2 athletic wingbacks. Because Mexico also faces a considerably weaker Bolivia side just 3 days later, Piojo may save the second game for players like Miguel Ponce. Besides that, this squad doesn't really have a natural right back, and certainly not a natural not wingback after Paul Aguilar. Look for Aguilar and Miguel Layun to start against Chile.

Two of the three centerback spots basically pick themselves. For all his faults (and they are considerable) Maza Rodriguez is among the most reliable defenders at Piojo's disposable. The other shoo-in is Hiram Mier, the once highly touted young defender who suffered an ACL tear in his right knee in the fall of 2013. Mier was a starter for Mexico alongside Diego Reyes during the gold model run in the 2012 Olympics but he missed the entire Clausura 2014 campaign.

I see Piojo giving Hugo Ayala a chance to start at centerback with the athletic Mier in Rafa's sweeper role. The Tigres centerback has been in and out of the national team camp for 5 years now and Ayala has a chance to prove himself to head coach Herrera in this match.

In midfield, there's really not much to choose from for Mexico. Aquino showed during the World Cup that despite his talent that he is not much suited for Piojo's system. Despite a flying start for Rayo Vallecano, Aquino is likely to only see action off the bench against Chile.

Instead, the strongest lineup would feature “Gallito” Vasquez as a ball-winner and Hector Herrera in a supporting role in front of him. In a competition between recent PSV loan signing Andres Guardado and Cruz Azul hitman Marco Fabian, I think Guardado wins out. Fabian has failed to register a single goal or assist in 7 matches for La Maquina and should start in Mexico's second friendly against Bolivia.

Up top we are likely to see some familiar faces in Giovani dos Santos operating behind Oribe Peralta. “El Cepillo” Peralta has 3 goals for 5-1-1 Club America and will bury anything that comes to him in the area against Chile

Whether this Mexico squad can get a result against Chile remains to be seen but we should be in for an entertaining match on Saturday.

NEXT UP: September 6 – Friendly: Mexico vs. Chile, Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California – 10 p.m. EST, ESPN3 and Univision Deportes


Hamilton College
Club Domestic:
Rochester Rhinos, RBNY
Club Foreign:
Tottenham, Club América
Household Jeopardy champion from a small town in Upstate New York. Simultaneously brought to Tottenham Hotspur by a youth coach & given a copy of FIFA 2004. Enthusiastically pragmatic & a student of the game. Covering the Mexican National Team & Liga MX.