Coach Lozano, El Tri set to take on Colombia in year-end friendly

Mexico to take second-rate roster to Los Angeles to face South American counterpart
Team Mexico coach Jaime Lozano and his top assistant Ryota Nishimura talk strategy during El Tri's Nations League quarterfinal match against Honduras.
Team Mexico coach Jaime Lozano and his top assistant Ryota Nishimura talk strategy during El Tri's Nations League quarterfinal match against Honduras. / Hector Vivas/GettyImages

Team Mexico resumes its Contractual Obligations Tour on Saturday, Dec. 16, with an exhibition match against Colombia.

This will be the sixth and final contest of the MexTour series this year, a series that was a bit overloaded this year to make up for contracted games that were postponed in 2020 due the Covid pandemia.

Mid-December is not a convenient time for a soccer friendly, however. Not only is it not a FIFA date – which means no European-based players will be available – but the game falls right at the end of the domestic season in each country.

As such, players from Liga MX finalists América and Tigres can’t participate, nor can players from Colombia poerhouse clubs Independiente Medellín and Junior who will face off tonight to determine their league’s championship.

A dozen debutantes on Mexico roster

El Tri manager Jimmy Lozano sent out 22 invitations to the Team Mexico mini-camp this week. The nature of this match – cynically referred to as a “partido molero,” or meaningless contest – is reflected in Lozano’s selections.

Only a handful of these players – Monterrey’s Jordi Cortizo and UNAM’s César Huerta among them – can expect to be in consideration for roster spots heading into next year’s Copa América.

Although quite a few Team Mexico stars are available – Pachuca’s Erick Sánchez, Monterrey’s Luis Romo, Cruz Azul’s Uriel Antuna and Carlos Rodríguez, and Guadalajara’s Roberto Alvarado and Fernando Beltrán – Lozano opted to give these regulars a rest.

Then there are the seven big names who will be participating in the Liga MX final series this week: América’s Henry Martín, Julio González, Luis Malagón and Kevin Álvarez, as well as a trio of Tigres – Sebastián Córdova, Diego Lainez and Jesús Angulo.

So Team Mexico fans who shell out the big bucks to attend Saturday’s match at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum will be cheering on the following players:

Goalies: Julio González (UNAM); José Antonio Rodríguez (Tijuana)

Defenders: Alexis Peña (Necaxa); Brian García (Toluca); Jesús Orozco (Guadalajara); Luis Olivas (Guadalajara); Omar Campos (Santos); Rafael Fernández (Tijuana); Ricardo Chávez (Atlético de San Luis); Rodrigo Huescas (Cruz Azul)

Midfielders: Alfonso González (Monterrey); Andrés Montaño (Mazatlán); Erik Lira (Cruz Azul); Dieter Villalpando (Atlético de San Luis); Jordi Cortizo (Monterrey); Juan Domínguez (Toluca); Omar Govea (Monterrey); Rodrigo López (UNAM)

Forwards/wingers: Bryan González (Pachuca); César Huerta (UNAM); Edgar López (Toluca); Guillermo Martínez (Puebla)

Granted, this will give the El Tri coaching staff a chance to work with some promising youngsters (Omar Campos, Rodrigo Huescas, Rodrigo López, Andrés Montaño), a handful of mid-level, but reliable veterans (Alexis Peña, Alfonso Gutiérrez, José Antonio Rodríguez, Omar Govea), as well as a few shining stars from the current Liga MX season (Guillermo Martínez, Dieter Villalpando, Julio González, Ricardo Chávez).

Next. Tigres advance to second straight final. Tigres will defend Liga MX title vs América. dark

As for Colombia, their roster is littered with seven players from local teams, six from MLS sides, two who play in Brazil, and Diber Cambindo, a back-up striker with Cruz Azul. The one notable face in Néstor Lorenzo’s squad is David Ospina, the long-time Arsenal goalie who is now a teammate of Cristiano Ronaldo at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr.