On the threat of getting forward of ourselves right here, Mexico‘s males’s nationwide staff are tantalizingly near qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar — assuming there is not a historic collapse just like the one seen from the USMNT in 2017.
With three video games left in CONCACAF’s eight-team qualifying stage, El Tri sit at third within the desk behind Canada and the U.S., with a four-point cushion over fourth-place Panama. Mexico wants to keep up a spot throughout the prime three for a direct World Cup invite, with fourth place taking part in an intercontinental playoff.
Though their subsequent qualifier can be a frightening one at dwelling in opposition to the United States (second place with 21 factors) on March 24, El Tri will then shut out their closing Octagonal dash with uncomplicated qualifiers in opposition to Honduras on March 27 and El Salvador on March 30. Honduras, who will host Mexico, are already out of the operating for the World Cup with a tally of three factors which have held them to the underside of the desk. El Salvador (sixth place on 9 factors) is also knocked out of the race earlier than the go to to Estadio Azteca.
Forward of these matches, Mexico supervisor Gerardo “Tata” Martino has announced a 29-man roster that revealed some surprises and exclusions. And whereas some star gamers who’re definitely Qatar-bound, there are nonetheless quite a few roles and positons up for grabs.
With that in thoughts, we have stepped into Martino’s footwear to investigate his potential participant pool and finally predict who the Mexico supervisor will finally choose for his 23-man squad for the match in that can kick off in late November.
How we’re doing this
With Martino’s proclivity for a 4-3-Three formation, we’re splitting up the evaluation by way of six place classes that can every have 4 tiers. The tiers are influenced by gamers’ kind for membership and nation, their significance to the nationwide staff and quite a lot of different elements.
Tier 1: Projected starter. Roster locks and gamers who’re clear starters at their positions.
Tier 2: World Cup contributor. Gamers anticipated to be on the roster and contribute on the sphere, both as a starter or sub.
Tier 3: Roster bubble. Rivalry to be on the 23-man squad and supply roster depth.
Tier 4: Not this time. Gamers who’ve been across the staff however seemingly will not obtain a lot of a search for inclusion.
Who’s going to the World Cup if Mexico qualifies? Let’s dive into what Martino could possibly be pondering.
There’s Guillermo Ochoa after which there’s everybody else on the subject of the goalkeeper place. After being Mexico’s go-to participant in web for the 2014 and 2018 editions of the World Cup, count on the 36-year-old to as soon as once more sit between the sticks in 2022.
Since taking cost in 2019, Martino has tended to lean in the direction of extra skilled names on the subject of alternate options for Ochoa. Alfredo Talavera, 39, has continued to be concerned in call-ups. Rodolfo Cota, 34, has discovered a second wind in his profession as arguably one of the best goalkeeper of the Liga MX season thus far with Leon (regardless of some latest noteworthy blunders). That stated, the El Tri alternatives have been scarce for the veterans who could possibly be surpassed by different choices akin to Jonathan Orozco or Hugo Gonzalez.
As for children, Santos Laguna’s 25-year-old Carlos Acevedo seems because the most certainly to sneak right into a World Cup spot, particularly after beginning in a pleasant in December, however has additionally but to be given minutes within the Octagonal spherical. Following his one-time change from the USMNT, Actual Salt Lake’s 21-year-old keeper David Ochoa has but to be known as up by Martino.
Alternatives: G. Ochoa, Cota, Talavera
Tier 1: (none)
Tier 4: Osvaldo Rodriguez (Leon), Salvador Reyes (Membership America), Jose David “Avion” Ramirez (Leon), Alejandro Mayorga (Cruz Azul), Kevin Alvarez (Pachuca), Vladimir Loroña (Membership Tijuana), Miguel Layun (Membership America), Fernando Navarro (Pachuca), Omar Campos (Santos Laguna), Emilio Lara (Membership America)
It is no secret that Mexico’s right-back and left-back positions have change into weak hyperlinks. For membership and nation, each Jesus Gallardo and Luis “Chaka” Rodriguez have proven gradual indicators of stagnation that significantly put their roles into query. Whereas Gallardo was included in Mexico’s call-up for March’s World Cup qualifiers, Chaka was unexpectedly dropped.
If Gerardo Arteaga continues to safe good performances overseas in Belgium with Genk, he might then steal extra minutes from Gallardo at left-back. Erick Aguirre is perhaps a shock World Cup addition as nicely if he may also help revive Monterrey’s season which has been disappointing as of late. With the ability to play within the midfield would not damage his possibilities both.
On the right-hand facet of the full-back dialog, Chaka must be cautious of LA Galaxy’s Julian Araujo. The Mexican-American has rocketed up the El Tri depth chart due to a formidable nationwide staff debut in December and an environment friendly show as a sub in a February qualifier in opposition to Panama.
Elsewhere at right-back, Jorge Sanchez must be a near-lock, however he has but to achieve the heights that many have anticipated from him, thereby leaving a chance for Araujo. Alan Mozo can be value noting due to some highlight-worthy performances in 2022 with Pumas, however there was no indication that Martino will deliver him again into the fold.
Predicted picks: Gallardo, Arteaga, L. Rodriguez, Araujo
Tier 1: Hector Moreno (Monterrey)
The 34-year-old Hector Moreno would not have the identical tempo and pace he as soon as had, and there are not any ensures for him in a continuing beginning function with Monterrey, however the long-time veteran stays as a incredible distributor and an imposing presence within the air. When totally match and accessible, the massive query for Martino has been one concerning Moreno’s accomplice alongside him within the heart of the protection.
That leaves Nestor Araujo, Johan Vasquez and Cesar Montes preventing for that secondary spot. Nevertheless, in a again line that also wants work, it would not be a shock if a partnership between any of those three youthful choices finally pushes Moreno onto the bench.
Of the Tier Three gamers, Julio “Cata” Dominguez’s well-roundedness as a center-back or right-back retains him within the operating. Now with Toronto FC in Main League Soccer, Carlos Salcedo is a seasoned defender, albeit one with a decline since his Eintracht Frankfurt days. Tigres man Jesus Alberto Angulo is one other attainable wild card that might win over Martino on the final minute. Puebla’s Israel Reyes can be somebody to comply with after being included within the newest call-up from Martino.
Predicted picks: Moreno, Araujo, Vasquez, Montes
Tier 4: Marcelo Flores (Arsenal), Alfonso “Ponchito” Gonzalez (Monterrey), Marcel Ruiz (Membership Tijuana), Erick Sanchez (Pachuca), Fernando Beltran (Chivas), Luis Chavez (Pachuca), Jose Joaquin Esquivel (FC Juarez), Victor Guzman (Pachuca), Jose Ivan Rodriguez (Leon)
No matter an upcoming transfer from LaLiga to MLS with the Houston Dynamo this summer season, Hector Herrera ought to stay as a key part of El Tri‘s midfield. Final month, Martino himself claimed that he was the “greatest footballer that Mexico has.” Alongside him within the coronary heart of a 4-3-Three formation, Ajax’s Edson Alvarez is one other immovable presence in a three-man setup.
However who’s the third identify on this trio? Though Andres Guardado serves as captain and has a useful affect throughout the roster, it hasn’t been out of the bizarre for the 35-year-old Actual Betis midfielder to be an choice off the bench throughout qualifiers. Cruz Azul’s Carlos “Charly” Rodriguez is one other very robust contender for minutes after shining for membership and nation this yr. As seen in a few latest El Tri video games, each are additionally in a position to begin collectively when somebody like Alvarez is unavailable.
That is 4 midfielders chosen, probably leaving one or two extra areas left within the 23-man roster. PSV Eindhoven’s Erick Gutierrez ought to simply be within the dialog after the season he is having overseas, however he would not have the identical versatility as Monterrey’s Luis Romo. As for Sebastian Cordova, Erik Lira, Jonathan dos Santos and Alan Cervantes, they’re all at present on the skin trying in.
Of the gamers remaining, Marcelo Flores, Erick Sanchez and Marcel Ruiz are unlikely to be featured, however they’re undoubtedly younger wild playing cards to comply with.
Predicted picks: Herrera, Alvarez, Guardado, C. Rodriguez, Romo
Tier 4: Jairo Torres (Atlas), Alejandro Zendejas (Membership America), Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy), Benjamin Galdames (Union Espanola), Karel Campos (Membership America), Mauro Lainez (Membership America), Jesus “Canelo” Angulo (Chivas)
With LAFC star Carlos Vela ruling himself out of the nationwide staff image, the beginning spots on the wings will belong to Hirving “Chucky” Lozano and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona. On the left, Oberlin Pineda has been unnoticed of the March roster for World Cup qualifiers, seemingly attributable to a scarcity of minutes at Celta, however he stays essentially the most appropriate back-up to Lozano. On the correct, Cruz Azul’s Uriel Antuna has usually appeared as Martino’s subsequent choice after Corona.
Actual Betis’ Diego Lainez is on the roster for the March qualifiers however has in no way solidified a aircraft ticket to Qatar. It might appear unfair to go away the participant out who has had decisive performances off the bench for Mexico this yr, however a extreme lack of membership minutes could possibly be sufficient to maintain him out.
Rodolfo Pizarro, again within the combine for the March qualifiers, might make the minimize if Martino needs to deliver extra expertise in. Roberto Alvarado can be on the radar as somebody who can play in quite a lot of positions.
Predicted picks: Lozano, Corona, Pineda, Antuna
Identical to the goalkeeper place, up entrance, it is Raul Jimenez after which everybody else. The Wolves striker is the focus of Mexico’s assault, however after him, the race continues for a backup spot.
In concept, it must be Rogelio Funes Mori, however the Monterrey ahead has been disappointing with one aim in eight Octagonal appearances. Damage points that led to an exclusion from March’s Mexico call-up will not do a lot to assist. Membership America’s Henry Martin ought to quickly surpass Funes Mori within the depth chart, however Martino hasn’t given him constant begins throughout World Cup qualifiers. Regardless of Alexis Vega’s function that tends to be on the left wing, the Chivas participant can be a potential choice due to a capability to play as a central ahead.
A darkish horse is Cruz Azul’s 20-year-old striker Santiago Gimenez. Just like Flores within the midfield, it is perhaps too early to be concerned with the ultimate roster, however he incorporates an immense quantity of uncooked expertise. With no different names securing a backup striker spot simply but, Gimenez could possibly be a breakout participant in Mexico’s closing three qualifiers.
Bringing in Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez — Mexico’s all-time main objectives scorer — could be a simple and easy repair for the backup function, however he hasn’t been concerned in a sport for El Tri since 2019.
Predicted picks: Jimenez, Funes Mori, Vega
And at last… our projected 23-man squad in full (and closing ideas)
Goalkeepers (3): Guillermo Ochoa, Rodolfo Cota, Alfredo Talavera
Defenders (8): Jesus Gallardo, Gerardo Arteaga, Luis “Chaka” Rodriguez, Julian Araujo, Hector Moreno, Nestor Araujo, Johan Vasquez, Cesar Montes
Midfielders (5): Hector Herrera, Edson Alvarez, Andres Guardado, Carlos “Charly” Rodriguez, Luis Romo
Wingers (4): Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, Orbelin Pineda, Uriel Antuna
Strikers (3): Raul Jimenez, Rogelio Funes Mori, Alexis Vega
Let’s take the glass-half-full perspective first. On paper, few nationwide groups could be snug dealing with a Lozano-Jimenez-Corona frontline. The midfield, though growing old, is present process a transition with “Charly” Rodriguez main the best way. Defensively, Martino has the correct instruments to finally make the again line a formidable one. Lastly, in web, Ochoa thrives on the most important of levels and can remember to add extra saves to his spotlight reel.
Now that that is out of the best way, let’s dive into some pessimism.
As thrilling as a greatest XI would look, issues might shortly disintegrate for Mexico if any of the go-to starters are injured or unavailable. As seen over the previous yr or so within the assault, Jimenez’s damage points, together with different elements, have not often led to constant beginning XIs with the Lozano-Jimenez-Corona frontline. Within the midfield, there is a worrisome scarcity of pace every time Herrera and Guardado are tasked with serving to preserve management. As for the again line, Martino has the correct instruments, however will he make the right selections or keep on with some underwhelming names who’ve been on a decline? Ochoa must be fantastic in web, however after him, it is powerful to really feel assured about alternate options.
Mexico ought to have sufficient right here to make it into the knockout spherical of a World Cup, however as per regular, it is up within the air if they will final lengthy afterwards.