Mexico manager Jaime Lozano will have 11 Europe-based players on hand when El Tri takes on Ghana and Germany during the upcoming October FIFA break.
Lozano presented his roster of 26 on Thursday night, a list that includes three first-timers and four goalies (even though it is a foregone conclusion that Memo Ochoa will start both contests).
Turning down the invitation was Houston Dynamo midfielder Héctor Herrera who cited a niggling knock in expressing the desire to rest up and recover as his team prepares for the MLS playoffs.
Mexico faces tougher rivals this time round
The September FIFA break was the first full test for coach Lozano in that it was his first chance to hand-pick the team. (“Jimmy” inherited Diego Cocca’s roster when he took over and led El Tri to Gold Cup glory in July.)
Last month’s results were unsatisfactory (a 2-2 draw vs Australia and a 3-3 tie against Uzbekistan) and Lozano received some criticism for his roster selection. The challenge will be significantly tougher this time around.
Whereas Mexico’s opponents in September were ranked 27th (the Aussies) and 74th (the Uzbeks), El Tri will next face the world’s No. 15 team (Germany) and No. 60 Ghana. El Tri, meanwhile, remains at No. 12 although they certainly didn’t play like it last month.
The national team will open against Ghana on Oct. 14 in Charlotte, North Carolina, before taking on a slumping German squad on Oct. 17 in Philadelphia.
Three returning veterans and three new faces
This time around, coach Lozano will have winger Hirving Lozano, midfielder Luis Chávez and defender César Montes at his disposal. All three were key starters on Mexico’s 2022 World Cup squad.
“Jimmy” opted not to summon the threesome in September since each player was looking to finalize transfers to new clubs in Europe (“Chucky” from Napoli to PSV Eindhoven, Chávez from Pachuca to Dynamo Moscow and Montes from Espanyol to Almería). Now that the trio is settled in, they will be back in El Tri camp next week.
Once again, three new players received their first invite to an El Tri camp. Last month, Huerta and Cortizo were joined by Luis Orozco though the Chivas defender did not get any match time.
This time, UNAM goalie Julio González, América defender Ramón Juárez and Toluca midfielder Marcel Ruiz received their inaugural invitation to Team Mexico. While González, 32, seems like a stretch (he does have the second-most saves in Liga MX, however), Juárez, 22, and Ruiz, also 22, seem like stars in the making.
It remains to be seen if any of the newbies get their first El Tri cap (unlikely against Germany, but a possibility in the Ghana match) though if I had to make a prediction, I’d posit that Ruiz will be granted a debut.
Coach Lozano will use the October match-ups to analyze which players he might want to include on his November roster since El Tri will have a Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal match against an as-yet-to-be-determined opponent.
The complete El Tri roster
Goalies: Guillermo Ochoa (Salernitana); Luis Malagón (América); Antonio Rodríguez (Tijuana) and Julio González (UNAM).
Defenders: Kevin Álvarez (América); Johan Vásquez (Genoa); Víctor Guzmán (Monterrey); Gerardo Arteaga (Genk); César Montes (Almería); Jesús Gallardo (Rayados), Jorge Sánchez (Porto) and Ramón Juárez (América).
Midfielders: Edson Álvarez (West Ham); Orbelín Pineda (AEK Athens); Luis Chávez (Dynamo Moscow); Luis Romo (Monterrey); Erick Sánchez (Pachuca); Jordi Cortizo (Monterrey); Marcel Ruiz (Toluca) and Sebastián Córdova (Tigres).
Forwards: Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven); Henry Martín (América); Uriel Antuna (Cruz Azul); César Huerta (UNAM); Raúl Jiménez (Fulham) and Santiago Giménez (Feyenoord).
Players will begin reporting to the El Tri HQ on Sunday before the team travels to Charlotte where Lozano will conduct a brief training camp ahead of their Oct. 14 match against Ghana.