Mexico loads up in the attack with star-studded roster to face USA in Columbus
Say this about Mexico: It's not holding back.
Manager Juan Carlos Osorio has recalled Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela, adding them to a Mexico squad full of dynamic attackers for El Tri's World Cup qualifier against the U.S. men's national team next Friday in Columbus. The match will open the CONCACAF Hexagonal for both sides, and it's the fifth straight match in this round on U.S. soil that will be held at Columbus Crew SC's home. Mexico has lost 2-0 in each of the previous four matchups there, dating back to 2001. With an attack this deep and talented, it's going to take a stout, organized defensive effort for the U.S. to keep the scoreline streak intact.
Vela last played for Mexico almost a year ago, November 17, 2015, in a World Cup qualifier against Honduras, and has endured an on-again, off-again soap opera with the national team. Dos Santos, meanwhile, has had a soap opera of his own after turning down a Copa America call, but he is enjoying a fine run of form with the LA Galaxy, and his brother, Villarreal's Jonathan Dos Santos, also makes the cut. They'll join Germany-based Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Marco Fabian and a host of other European-based players such as the Porto trio of Jesus "Tecatito" Corona, Hector Herrera and Miguel Layun.
Rafa Marquez, 37, returns in defense, along with Espanyol's Diego Reyes and former Real Salt Lake product Carlos Salcedo.
Not included is Paul Aguilar, the goal-scoring hero of the 2015 CONCACAF Cup USA-Mexico clash at the Rose Bowl. The Club America fullback is out with a torn ACL.
If there's a weakness for the U.S. to exploit, it's at the fullback spot, where only Layun is a true option. That could potentially mean that Osorio is going to opt for a three-man back line, or it could open up the possibility that Andres Guardado, who is so influential in the midfield, drops back to the left back spot he has played for club and country in the past.
Regardless, the front six or seven will prove to be a handful for the U.S. defense, no matter how Osorio elects to deploy them.
Vela's a wild card, but he won't have to come close to shouldering the load given who else is around him. He enters in fine form, having scored three goals in his last six games, and he'll be an excellent late-game option, should Osorio choose to use him in that way.
Mexico, ranked 17th in the world, will also play at Panama during the first window of the Hex, while the 24th-ranked USA will face 2014 World Cup quarterfinalist Costa Rica. Both of those games will be Nov. 15.
Here is Mexico's squad in full:
GOALKEEPERS: Guillermo Ochoa (Granada), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul)
DEFENDERS: Rafa Marquez (Atlas), Hector Moreno (PSV), Miguel Layun (Porto), Diego Reyes (Espanyol), Nestor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Oswaldo Alanis (Chivas), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Carlos Salcedo (Fiorentina),
MIDFIELDERS: Andres Guardado (PSV), Jonathan Dos Santos (Villarreal), Giovani Dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt), Orbelin Pineda (Chivas), Jesus Duenas (Tigres), Hector Herrera (Porto)
FORWARDS: Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen), Oribe Peralta (America), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Jose Corona (Porto)