Under fire Lozano names 26-man El Tri roster for Copa América

Underachieving Mexico opens tournament play against Jamaica on June 22
El Tri manager Jaime Lozano is under pressure after a series of poor results.
El Tri manager Jaime Lozano is under pressure after a series of poor results. / Omar Vega/GettyImages

On the heels of a pair of disappointing friendlies, Team Mexico coach Jaime Lozano presented the 26-man roster with which El Tri will compete in the upcoming Copa América.

Mexico opens the tournament on June 22 against Concacaf rival Jamaica in Houston and Lozano will be under pressure to get win or chances of reaching the knockout rounds will shrink considerably.

El Tri and The Reggae Boyz are joined by South American sides Ecuador and Venezuela in Group B. 

Mexico plays Venezuela in Inglewood, California, on June 26 and finishes group-stage play against Ecuador in Glendale, Arizona, on June 30.

The El Tri traveling party

Lozano released five players to get down to the proscribed limit, cutting defenders Victor Guzman (Monterey) and Alexis Peña (Necaxa), as well as midfielders Jordan Carrillo (Santos Laguna), Andrés Montaño (Mazatlán FC) and Fernando Beltrán (Guadalajara).

Here is the list of the men who will be trying to restore Mexico’s pride:

Goalies: Julio González (UNAM), José Rangel (Guadalajara) and Carlos Acevedo (Santos Laguna)

Defenders: Jorge Sánchez (Porto), Israel Reyes (América), Johan Vásquez (Genoa), César Montes (Almería), Jesús Orozco (Guadalajara), Gerardo Arteaga (Monterrey), Brian García (Toluca) and Bryan González (Pachuca)

Midfielders: Luis Chávez (Dynamo Moscow), Luis Romo (Monterrey), Erick Sánchez (Pachuca), Edson Álvarez (West Ham United), Carlos Rodríguez (Cruz Azul), Orbelín Pineda (AEK Athens), Jordi Cortizo (Monterrey) and Marcelo Flores (Tigres)

Forwards: Uriel Antuna (Cruz Azul), Santiago Giménez (Feyenoord), Julián Quiñones (América), Guillermo Martínez (UNAM), Alexis Vega (Toluca), Roberto Alvarado (Guadalajara) and César Huerta (UNAM).

Two players who were not on Lozano’s original list - Acevedo and Cortizo – ended up making the Copa América team. They are brought in during training camp to replace goalkeper Luis Malagón (América) and winger Diego Lainez (Tigres), both of whom came up lame in training camp.

The loss of Malagón is particularly painful as he was seen as the first-choice goalie, the man who would replace the legendary Guillermo Ochoa between the pipes. Malagón was instrumental in helping América win back-to-back titles and was by far the top goalie in Liga MX this past season.

Lozano on the hot seat

Mexico’s young manager was facing questions heading into the summer (Is he experienced enough? Does he have the tactical know-how to run a national team?), and the queries turned to criticism after the team’s performances last week.

El Tri was completely dismantled by Uruguay, looking outmatched and confounded. A few days later, Mexico put in a better showing against Brazil, erasing a 2-0 deficit to knot things up early in stoppage time only to fall asleep and allow the game-winner a few minutes later. 

Combined with yet another bitter loss to Team USA in the Nations League in March and a series of unimpressive performances in the past 12 months, it is understandable that Lozano is under the gun.

Lozano is 9-3-6 overall as El Tri manager, but he is only 4-3-5 since being granted the job on a permanent basis. His 5-0-1 start as interim coach, including victory in a watered-down Gold Cup last year, earned him the promotion.

Although Mexican soccer media is notorious for its merciless scrutiny and mean-spirited commentary, it is not unmerited in this instance. Televisa analyst David Faitelson has called this generation the worst Mexican national team in 35 years


The only way, El Tri will win back the pundits is with wins and a little bit of flair. And that will have to start on June 22 at NRG Stadium.