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Countdown to Columbus: Mexico’s Squad Revealed

Mexico Manager Sven Goran Eriksson has named his squad for the February 11th qualifier against the United States in Columbus.

Goalkeepers : Oswaldo Sanchez (Santos Laguna), Guillermo Ochoa (America), Jose de Jesus Corona (Tecos)

Defenders : Juan Carlos Valenzuela (America), Julio Cesar Dominguez (Cruz Azul), Carlos Salcido (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), Ricardo Osorio (Stuttgart, Germany), Rafael Marquez (Barcelona, Spain), Aaron Galindo (Guadalajara), Leobardo Lopez (Pachuca)

Midfielders : Fausto Pinto (Cruz Azul), Pavel Pardo (America), Leandro Augusto (Pumas), Luis Perez (Monterrey), Israel Martinez (San Luis), Antonio Naelson (Toluca), Nery Castillo (Shakhtar Donetsk, Ukraine)

Forwards : Alberto Medina (Guadalajara), Cesar Villaluz (Cruz Azul), Giovani Dos Santos (Tottenham Hotspur, England), Matias Vuoso (Santos Laguna), Carlos Ochoa (Guadalajara), Guillermo Franco (Villarreal, Spain), Omar Bravo (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain)

On first look Mexico’s squad looks weak especially with the exclusion of Carlos Vela and Andres Guardado due to suspension. But the reality is the exclusion of Vela and Guardado two raw and temperamental players whose play and behavior have been less than stellar for El Tri could actually help Sven Goran Eriksson’s side.

Mexico will enter a qualifier against the United States as a decided underdog for the first time since 1934. This is a dangerous spot for the United States. This Mexico side possesses more than enough quality to come to Crew Stadium and escape with a result. Sven Goran Eriksson is a proven tactical maestro when his teams are counted out and need a result.

Carlos  Salcido is the most talented and one of the most accomplished players who will take the field at Crew Stadium. In Osorio and Pardo, Mexico also boasts Bundesliga title winners just two seasons ago with Stuttgart. The current American squad contains zero players who have ever won a title in a major European league.

Not only does Mexico need a result: Eriksson needs one after El Tri barely qualified for the Hexagonal. The Mexicans performance in the semifinal round was perhaps the poorest in their group, but some luck and fortune officiating saw them through.

This round it will be very unlikely Mexico will once again get the breaks they got in the semifinal round. These breaks included a Hurricane which forced a game to be moved from Kingston to Azteca, two Canadian shots that hit off the post late in a 2-2 draw and two controversial calls that allowed Mexico to erase a late deficit at home to Honduras and secure three points.

Mexico will need to improve its play to advance to South Africa 2010. While El Tri has the most talented player pool in the region, right now the squad is dysfunctional and suffering from inflated egos and poor coaching. While Mexico still has to be considered a favorite to advance the margin of error for a side that cannot seem to achieve positive results on the road is virtually non existent.

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  1. Enrique

    February 5, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Jonathan, I completely agree with you, SVG has a way better career. The problem is that in Mexico a coach of his caliber won’t be allowed to work properly, just look at all the circus around him because he called 4 naturalized players. Definitely Bradley has been more successful with the US than Sven with Mexico. I would love Sven to coach here because he would be granted freedom to work. It’s very common for Latin American federations to get restless and fire a coach without allowing him to implement his system. Mexican fans are very nationalistic, look at the way they treated Sanchez compared to Lavolpe, which one was more successful?

    In 2001 Honduras won 3rd place by making a great run and beating Brazil and Uruguay, but they missed the last qualifying spot in 2002. Mexico are not themselves but definitely that is not the only reason why they are having trouble. Can you remember the last 10 month span where Mexico ever struggled against Concacaf competition this much? More and better Concacaf players in Europe. Mexico clearly is worried about missing the World Cup.

    Lets not demerit what the US has become, every single team in Concacaf looks at them like the team to beat, whether they publicly admit it or not. You can see the steady work that Bradley has done with this team, up to this point if I’m not mistaken, he has a better record than Arena did his first 2 years. Although his style is not liked, he puts them in good positions to win and allows young talent to develop. I’m not saying the US is top ten team in the world, no Concacaf team is, but they have improved to the point where Americans passionately support and care about this team. This is huge, if you take into consideration that ten years ago we didn’t care if the crowd was pro-Mexico and could never had sold out a game in 90 minutes. I think that in terms of long term plans the US is doing better than Mexico, even if they have a self proclaimed golden generation(the U-17 world cup champs). Those players have clearly underachieved, they cannot get consistent playing time in European teams. Except for Marquez and Hugo Sanchez, historically, they go with the hopes of Mexico and come back to play in the FMF because they don’t want to grind it out(Pardo, Torrado, Blanco and many others) like the American players. I know they get payed better in Mexico but the point is that the competition is better in Europe.

  2. Jonathan

    February 4, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    >>3rd place finish at the 2007 COPA AMERICA, it’s not bad

    The quarterfinal finish of the US is remarkable, and Germany should have lost that game.

    Let’s take a look at SGE and Bradley’s coaching careers. SGE is superior. One does not have a coaching career like his out of coincidence. Mexico would be making a big mistake of firing him on the basis of the next qualifier.

  3. Enrique

    February 4, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    By the way, in 2002 the US eliminated Mexico and played a great game against the sub-champ Germany. In 2006 they were in arguably the group of death and played another great game against Italy.

  4. Enrique

    February 4, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    What’s the record of Ericksson’s first 5 months compared to Bradley’s first? What, you think that if Mexico loses against the US they are not going to fire Sven and hire the new unemployed Aguirre? There goes the blueprint.

  5. Jonathan

    February 4, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    In terms of getting to the second round, Mexico is better. They’ve been carrying the banner of CONCACAF proudly for years (see 2006 WC where everyone else in CONCACAF went home after three games except for Mexico, 9rd place finish at the 2007 COPA AMERICA, it’s not bad). For that Mexico should be applauded.

    Against each other, the US is better.

    Too many US fans focus too intently on Mexico. What does it get you? Nothing. Mexico focuses on other things, and they have the results to show for it. For example, look at the coaching hires. The US stuck with Princeton alumnus who is underqualified. Mexico changed managers, and with SGE, it’s clearly meant to aim for a deep run on 2010. SGE has done pretty good with England and Italian clubs. Princeton alumnus really has not much on his football CV except for a US passport .

  6. Pingback: Mexico’s Golden Generation « View from the Terraces

  7. Enrique

    February 4, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    It’s very common for Mexican fans to get defensive and overhype their players, the Mexican media does it and the FMF does it by overpaying their players. They definitely have some talented and proven players but since winning the U-17 WC, tell me which ones have really accomplished anything. Rafa Marquez is the only one who you can put above any top American player, and Mexico can stop pretending that Guardado is going to be C. Ronaldo or Messi. Can you imagine the shit talking the players, media, and fans would do if for the past 10 games Mexico was dominant? Still to this day, the majority consider Mexico above the US and well above any other team in the Concacaf, still pretending that they are in 1992.

    Sorry to blow your bubble, but look at the way the results have shaped over the past 8 years in the region. You can deny it all you want, but the truth is that the US is above all teams and that Costa Rica and Honduras have talent and are threats to Mexico’s hope to qualify. Mexico has stood still while other teams have improved. We are talking about a team that was taking over the world according to Hugo Sanchez. I love how the media treats the success of Mexicans in Europe and overlook how the US players do over there.

    I really respect what Mexico has done in the past and the fact that for many years they have been the best ambassador for the region, however, they really need to have some humility and accept that times change. Arrogance is what the players display, they are sore losers, look how they always end up red carded to the end of the game. Feb. 11th is going to very tough for both sides, just like it is for Argentina and Brazil, it’s going to be exciting and lets hope we don’t have sore losers to taint the game.

  8. Kartik

    February 4, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Also, Guardado is a raw player??? LOL…really WTF are you talking bout? Do you even know who Guardado is? He’s better than any player the US has.Carlos vela, yes he’s raw..only 19 years old.
    Also, yes mexico did bad in the group stage and the U.S did better. But, dont forget who mexico played agains and who the U.S played agains. I dont think they called it the Group of Death for no reason. But yes, mexico is not in its best form

    It’s amazing how defensive Mexican fans consistently get even when you try and compliment a team that doesn’t need to be complimented.

    Guardado is IMHO garbage. He’s raw and undisciplined. He doesn’t track back at all defensively and goes to the ground easily every time he’s touched.

    My mistake on Salcido. Yes of course he’s not jorge…..will fix that. But he is Mexico;s best player. Osorio? You must have heard of him. Teamed with Pardo to have remarkable success in Germany. It’s a shame you don’t even know your own team.

    If Guardado is better than any player the US has I will say it here and now: The USA will not qualify for World Cup 2010. Honestly, Guardado is going to go the way of some other fabulous Mexican attacking busts of the past unless things change, but we’ll cover that subject another time.

  9. dvdv307

    February 4, 2009 at 7:50 am


    I have to agree with your comment. Very well said.

  10. Beast

    February 3, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    As a fan of the Mexican national team I will say I have my biases but I definitely like to look at both sides of the coin and entertain other perspectives. However, Kartik, your article left a lot to be desired. There are points that ring true such as the fact that Mexico had a poor performance in the group stages (well at least as visitors) and that there is a lot of disfunction due to the lack of work with the European based players due to the FIFA 48 hour regulation. However, to say that “some luck and fortunate officiating” are the reasons for Mexico progressing to their next stage is inaccurate and bias. If you take into account the missed opportunities against Mexico than you must certainly have to take into account the missed opportunities BY Mexico as well. Such as the shots that hit the post in Mexico’s away games to Honduras and Jamaica (Marquez’s header, Arce’s shot that hit the post).

    As for the hurricane, the game might have been moved to the Azteca stadium, but Jamaica still had their home game regardless. I will grant you that the referee was not up to par in Honduras but that is simply the level of the Concacaf has to offer and the calls were not all in Mexico’s favor. Certainly, plenty of calls went in the favor of the other teams facing Mexico.

    I will agree that Carlos Vela made a huge mistake by commiting that foul and getting the red card. He is 19 and of course needs to mature. Guardado is a whole different story. First, he is not out due to suspension. He will miss the game against the U.S. due to injury. Also, his temperment as compared to Carlos Vela is much more level headed. He is a gifted player with incredible work ethic, hence why he is so respected and admired in his team of Deportivo La Coruna. As for his level of play, it is clear that he will be missed against the U.S. as he contributes a lot to the Mexican National Team including the wonderful free kick strike against Jamaica at the Azteca and his constant crosses and pace.

    Certainly there is a psychological aspect that is affecting the Mexican national team and their performance outside of their home. Such controversy created by the media (the Mexican media especially) has resulted in nervousness in a squad that does not lack talent or abilitly just time to work on the group aspect of play. There is also a great focus on the fact that the US has not lost to Mexico in the last 10 games or so. However, the great oversight as was mentioned above is that all of these games occur outside of Mexico. The U.S. hasn’t beaten Mexico in Mexico in…..well let’s just say it is has been a long time.

    I definitely believe it will be an interesting game on February 11th with all the added pressure on the Eriksson and the recent history of matches between the two sides but to say that the Mexican side looks weak when a majority of the players that played in the group stages will be present (Marquez, Osorio, Galindo, Salcido, Pardo, Leandro Augusto, Vouso, Bravo, Osvaldo Sanchez, Pinto, Dos Santos) is a biased statement. Weak against a side like England, Spain, or Holland sure. But against a side like the U.S. who has definitely grown but not demonstrated any kind of significant achievement or even general acceptance from its the people is pretty ridiculous. You have a good start in this article but it definitely needs more research and a more journalistic approach rather than biased rant sprinkled with reluctant acceptance of Mexican players talent and lack of information about the actual players.

    Excuse the synicism as I don’t normally comment on articles and such but the arrogance of this article preceeds its journalistic purposes.

  11. so_fla_dave

    February 3, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Interesting piece as always. I think that a lot of U.S. fans are underestimating Mexico. They have too much talent to be taken lightly. Anyway, I really enjoy your work. One quick question. What has happened to CSRN and the American Soccer Show? I thought you and Dave D. did a great job.

  12. Mr.T

    February 3, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    WTF? Who is Jorge Salcido and Osario?
    Umm if you’re going to write atleast know what you’re talking about.
    Also, Guardado is a raw player??? LOL…really WTF are you talking bout? Do you even know who Guardado is? He’s better than any player the US has.Carlos vela, yes he’s raw..only 19 years old.
    Also, yes mexico did bad in the group stage and the U.S did better. But, dont forget who mexico played agains and who the U.S played agains. I dont think they called it the Group of Death for no reason. But yes, mexico is not in its best form.
    Oh also, people are quick to point out that mexico hasnt beat the U.S in its territory in the last 10+ years..umm when was the last time U.S beat Mexico IN mexico???? yeah..STFU

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