Coach Martino continues prepping El Tri for Qatar

El Tri head coach Gerardo Martino watches during the team's match against Nigeria. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
El Tri head coach Gerardo Martino watches during the team's match against Nigeria. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /
El Tri friendlies
Team Mexico players celebrate after a Nigerian own-goal provided El Tri with a 2-1 lead in an international friendly played in Arlington, Texas, on May 28. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /

El Tri faces off with Uruguay tonight in Phoenix, Arizona, the second of three friendlies it will play before its Concacaf Nations League calendar kicks off later this month.

Coach Gerardo Martino summoned 38 players to training camp to get a good look at his roster during the short “summer” break precipitated by the first-ever “winter” World Cup.

The consensus is that “Tata” will use his “Qatar line-up” against Uruguay and take a look at veterans on the World Cup roster bubble when El Tri takes on Ecuador on June 5 in Chicago.

After the Ecuador match, Mexico’s “star players” will be released so as to take part in their clubs’ training sessions ahead of the early than usual season kick-offs (for instance, Opening Day in Liga MX is July 1 when the Apertura seasons typically begin in mid-August. That’s just over one month since the Clausura 2022 campaign ended).

Last official games for El Tri before Qatar

The second Concacaf Nations League begins today with group stage matchdays scheduled this month, and the final two matchdays in March after the World Cup.

Mexico begins its quest to avenge the bitter 3-2 overtime loss to Team USA in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League tournament with a home match against Suriname on June 11. That game will be played in Estadio Nueva Corona in Torreón, Coahuila, home of Santos Laguna.

El Tri will then travel to Jamaica to take on the Reggae Boyz on June 14. The return matches in the three-team Group A are set for March, with El Tri paying a visit to Suriname on March 23 before hosting Jamaica on March 26.

Coach Martino is expected to utilize a youthful line-up for this month’s two Nations League contests. Much of the anticipation will be to see whether or not “Tata” gives Arsenal starlet Marcelo Flores playing time. The 18-year-old attacking midfielder only recently announced his decision to commit to El Tri (Flores also holds Canadian citizenship).

“Tata” will use the Suriname and Jamaica games to pare down his World Cup roster which is virtually decided upon already. Observers believe at least 18 of the 23 slots for the Qatar 2022 tournament are already secure, so the youngsters and some veterans on the bubble will be hoping to impress the El Tri coach in the upcoming matches.

That could mean Santos Laguna goalie Carlos Acevedo, 26, might be given the opportunity to shine against Suriname at his home stadium. His chances of making the World Cup roster as the third keeper got a bit of a boost when veteran Rodolfo Cota fumbled away a goal in Mexico’s friendly against Nigeria (a 2-1 win for El Tri).

Other fledgling members of El Tri include Cruz Azul forward Santiago Giménez, 21, and his Cementeros teammate Erik Lira, a 22-year-old midfielder. Giménez started and scored Mexico’s opener against Nigeria

Four members of Mexico’s Olympic bronze medal-winning side will also be looking to impress the El Tri coach: defender Jesús Angulo, 24, and his Tigres teammate Sebastián Córdova, also 24, plus Guadalajara playmakers Roberto Alvarado, 23, and Fernando Beltrán, 24.

Mexico’s Kiddie Corps comes up short

El Tri’s Under-20 squad lost to Venezuela on Thursday in the prestigious Maurice Revello Tournament which resumed after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the so-called Toulon Tournament the past two season.

Mexico is playing in Group B with Venezuela, Indonesia and Ghana. El Tri defeated Ghana 1-0 in its opening match before today’s 2-1 loss. Luis Pérez will try to refocus his charges ahead of the June 5 match against Indonesia. El Tri needs a win or a draw to advance to the knockout round if the youthful squad hopes to win another medal.

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In the previous Toulon Tournament – held in 2019 – El Tri finished in third place. Mexico lost in the 2018 final to England and won the 2012 Maurice Revello trophy with a 3-0 victory over Turkey. Three current members of El Tri were on that 2012 team: Héctor Herrera, Raúl Jiménez and Néstor Araujo.