Three things about the El Tri Olímpico roster

El Mini Tri poses for a team photo prior to its international friendly against Australia's Olympic team on June 12 in Marbella, Spain. (Photo by Jose Sanchez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
El Mini Tri poses for a team photo prior to its international friendly against Australia's Olympic team on June 12 in Marbella, Spain. (Photo by Jose Sanchez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
El Tri Olimpico roster
Guillermo Ochoa punches the ball clear during Mexico’s 2018 World Cup match vs. Brazil. Ochoa was selected for Mexico’s Olympics roster. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images) /

After weeks of speculation (and a rough loss to Team USA in the Nations League), El Tri soccer fans finally got a look at the squad that will represent Mexico at the Tokyo Games.

The announcement came a day after Gerardo Martino’s (very) preliminary 60-man list for this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup was leaked, so social media has been abuzz the past 24 hours.

The initial reaction to the 22 players registered for the Olympics by “Jimmy” Lozano was a mix of jubilation and gleeful anticipation. One tweeter even went so far as to say he’d take that line-up over the senior team (apologies to “Tata,” but it is rather a toss-up).

El Mini Tri has just over a month to prepare for its opening Group A match against France (and Kylian Mbappé? N’Golo Kanté? Paul Pogba? André-Pierre Gignac?), so there’ll be time to take a deeper dive. For now, here are my initial impressions:

Three things about El Tri Olímpico

1. Start with defense: With dreams of replicating the Golden performance by El Tri at the 2012 London Games, there was never any doubt that coach Lozano was going to use one of his three “overage player” selections on Guillermo Ochoa.

“Memo” has been a stalwart with El Tri for nearly eight years now, starring at two World Cups. His presence alone might allow the Olympic squad to pose as El Tri “mayor” in a friendly set for later this month in the United States. An actual game would surely benefit the Olympic team and it’s a likely bet that Mexico officials will try to convince game sponsors that El Tri fans in and around Nashville will be thrilled to see this team in action rather than the senior team which would likely be protecting players ahead of the Gold Cup.

That drama aside, Ochoa is likely to be team captain and he’ll be shepherding a young, but talented group of back-liners headed by César Montes, Johan Vázquez, Jesús Angulo, Gerardo Arteaga and Erick Aguirre.

2. Paring of roster likely to occur in midfield

“Jimmy” must submit a final roster list of 18 players (he’ll have to cur four players, one of whom will be a goalie – likely Sebastián Jurado) by the end of the month.

Erick Aguirre – the team captain during the Concacaf qualifiers – is capable of playing at fullback and in midfield, making the center of the pitch even more crowded. On the other hand, Roberto Alvarado has not committed to participating as he and his wife Dayana Gómez suffered a miscarriage in late May.

If I had to guess, I’d say Fernando Beltrán is the odd man out. “El Nene” struggled this past season in Guadalajara and was not a member of the qualifying team in March. And depending on what happens with Alvarado, Beltran’s Chivas teammate Jesús “Canelo” Angulo could also be a late casualty even though he was among the few bright spots for El Tri during the recent training camp in Spain.

3. One young forward is going to be disappointed

It’s a virtual certainty that rising star Diego Lainez (Real Betis), “overage player” Henry Martín and Chivas maestro Alexis Vega can book their seats to Tokyo. That leaves Chivas compañeros J.J. Macías and Uriel Antuna, and Santos sniper Eduardo “El Mudo” Aguirre battling over two spots up front.

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The 21-year-old Macías seemed to be on the fast track to fame a year-and-a-half ago while starring at León, but has stagnated since returning to Chivas in January 2020. He also failed to impress during the qualifiers and was a non-entity during the exhibition games in Spain.

Aguirre flashed into the spotlight during Santos Laguna’s run to the Liga MX Finals last month and was a latecomer to coach Lozano’s camps despite coming up through the El Tri system, playing for Mexico at both the U-17 World Cup (2015) and the U-20 World Cup (2017).

As an “overage player,” we can assume Martín’s place is secure. Since Macías and Aguirre basically play the same position as the América “goleador,” it’s more likely that one of them will find themselves watching the Olympics at home.

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Still, Antuna has suffered a drop in form since playing a key role in the Concacaf qualifiers two months ago. Lozano might decide he has better alternatives to the one-dimensional Antuna on the flank, while deciding that he might prefer depth at the point of attack.