Chicago Fire playmaker Cuauhtémoc Blanco has been, well, en fuego lately, and the 35-year-old's play has earned him a recall to the Mexican national team. El Tri is set to take on Honduras next week at Azteca Stadium as both teams open group play in 2010 World Cup qualifying.
The former Club América star, Blanco, has not been a part of the Mexican program since last summer's Gold Cup and Copa América. But Eriksson has brought in the veteran, who has 34 goals in 97 caps, mainly due to his scintillating form of late in MLS. Blanco was named MVP of the MLS All-star game last month in Toronto after scoring a brlliant goal and setting up another. He has four goals and six assists in 18 appearances for Chicago so far this season.
Mexican soccer has changed a great deal since the 2006 World Cup. After their German adventure, many Mexican players went overseas. Eriksson selected 11 players who are on the books in Europe, including Barcelona star Rafael Márquez, Stuttgart defender Ricardo Osorio and PSV wingback Carlos Salcido.
If Blanco is represents the experience required in qualification, 19-year-olds Giovani dos Santos is the youthful spirit that can change games. The Tottenham midfielder will lineup next to Stuttgart's Pavel Pardo and Deportivo's young Andrés Guardado. Youthful Carlos Vela, who was recalled from loan by Arsenal this summer, is also included in the roster.
The side also includes several foreign-born players, who have caused much controversy in Mexico. Naturalized Brazilian Leandro Augusto was excoriated in the local press for not knowing the Mexican national anthem, but Eriksson called him in, along with Santos Laguna's Matías Vuoso and Villarreal's Guillermo Franco.
The team begins training on Sunday in Mexico City. The Honduras match is on Wednesday.
GOALKEEPERS: Oswaldo Sánchez (Santos); Guillermo Ochoa (América); José de Jesús Corona (UAG)
DEFENDERS: Ricardo Osorio (Stuttgart); Rafael Márquez (Barcelona); Aarón Galindo (Eintracht Frankfurt); Fausto Pinto (Pachuca); Jonny Magallón (Guadalajara); Carlos Salcido (PSV); Francisco Javier Rodríguez (PSV); Edgar Castillo (Santos)
MIDFIELDERS: Giovani dos Santos (Tottenham Hotspur); Pavel Pardo (Stuttgart); Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul); Andrés Guardado (Deportivo La Coruña); Fernando Arce (Santos); Leandro Augusto (UNAM); Francisco Torres (Santos); Luis Pérez (Monterrey)
FORWARDS: Guillermo Franco (Villarreal); Omar Bravo (Deportivo La Coruña); Carlos Vela (Arsenal); Cuauhtémoc Blanco (Chicago Fire); Matías Vuoso (Santos); Carlos Ochoa (Monterrey)