Mexico puts its cards on the table
Mexico has put its cards on the table. There are less than two weeks until the most important game in CONCACAF this year, as El Tri gets set to host the U.S. in World Cup qualifying on Aug. 12.
After its emboldening 5-0 rout of the Americans at the Gold Cup final, Mexico has leaned heavily on that squad in naming its roster vs. the U.S. at the Estadio Azteca. Save for the game-day roster and starting lineup, there are no secrets anymore.
But what does Mexico truly have? Its strongest possible roster? That's debatable. Healthy and hungry players, ready to fight for country and honor in mighty Azteca? Hungry maybe, but health is a concern. A mix of youth and experience? Sure, but what roster doesn't fall into that category?
Mexico turned the corner in the Gold Cup, winning its first confederation championship since 2003, but qualifying remains a mystery. Few could have predicted Mexico's Gold Cup team could have ripped apart the U.S. with ease and few can foresee the future and figure out how Mexico will look like on Aug. 12. The individual pieces offer only one part of the entire equation. Here's a breakdown of the roster
The roster features plenty of talent.
Dos Santos was dangerous throughout the Gold Cup, as he was clearly Mexico's go-to player. The only challenge now is that he'll face a much stronger defense. There are no
The health situations regarding
Márquez blew out his knee in the Champions League semifinal against Chelsea and was unable to participate in season-ending matches for Barcelona, including the final. He has had no activity with Barça in the preseason. The Catalan club's upcoming tour of the U.S. will be important and telling. If Márquez sees action for Barcelona, he could play against the U.S.
As far as Castillo, the former Olympiakos standout now has joined yet another club as Shakhtar Donetsk loaned him out to Ukrainian rival Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. Castillo -- who had a public meltdown against the media before Mexico's World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica -- might have some emotional questions. Add to that an unstable club situation, and his performance is also a big question mark.
What happened to
This time, however, a healthy Pardo didn't make Aguirre's cut. And that's a debatable call -- Pardo's set-piece ability has proven dangerous against any opponent Mexico faces.
Other notable omissions should be no surprises as
Can Ochoa withstand the Americans' shots in the Azteca? Aguirre seems to believe so, as he left venerable veteran
If Mexico's Gold Cup performance can carry over into the Azteca. A full dozen of Mexico's 20-man roster helped El Tri win the Gold Cup. Stars such as Ochoa, Vela and dos Santos are joined by veterans
Talent aside, if Aguirre can help translate the success and confidence the Gold Cup squad carried out, Mexico will be in a fine position for the remainder of the Hexagonal.