In this week's flight around CONCACAF, Jon Arnold takes a look at the El Tri squad scheduled to contest the first match of World Cup qualification on February 6 and checks in on the boys in Tijuana.
January 24, 2013
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The Mexican federation announced which European-based players will be on the roster when Mexico takes on Jamaica on February 6 in their first Hex match. On the list are Javier Hernandez, Gio dos Santos, Andres Guardado, and Hector Moreno.
Guillermo Ochoa and Carlos Vela are the notable absences. Memo is expecting his first child during the time period in which the match will take place. That means Jose de Jesus Corona of Cruz Azul or Cirilo Saucedo, the tremendous Tijuana keeper who has made reference to his potential of being called up to the USMNT, as his mother is an American citizen, will likely take the spot. Saucedo was a surprise call-up to the Mexican national team for a friendly with Denmark next week (ASN will be on the scene).
Vela’s situation is a bit more interesting, as he was called in, but declined. This has happened several other times, and Vela hasn’t appeared for El Tri since 2011. He’s asking that people respect his personal reasons for not joining the team and says he will make the reasons public in the future. Don’t expect to see him at the Azteca any time soon.
Aside from Saucedo, some notable names include Carlos Salcido, the Tigres and former Fulham defender, Olympic hero Oribe Peralta, and Club América defender Diego Reyes.
Tijuana actually wasn’t even the Liga MX club with the most Americans on the field this week since Greg Garza is still recovering from an injury and Joe Corona didn’t travel to Mexico City for Xolos’ victory against Pumas because of a shoulder injury. It’s nothing too serious, though, as Corona was back in training Monday.
Tijuana dropped a 3-0 result Tuesday in a super-secret friendly with the USMNT January camp gang. In all seriousness, not much information has gotten out about the match, which is somewhat surprising. Tijuana are one of three teams still unbeaten in the Clausura and host Pachuca on Saturday.
Other Americans in Liga MX
Jose Torres made his Tigres debut and played 70 minutes in Tigres defeat of Atlas.
Michael Orozco Fiscal started and played the first half for Puebla in more of a midfield role as compared to the center back he has been playing. DaMarcus Beasley had been starting and getting taken out after about 60 minutes. This week, Carlos Poblete decided to flip the script, bringing on Beasley in the 69th minute. He drew the free kick that led to the stoppage-time winner.
Herc Gomez went the full 90 for Santos in the defeat.
Ventura Alvarado, a Phoenix native in Club América’s youth system, started both their Copa MX matches at center back. He always seems to show well in cup matches, and with las Aguilas winning both, Alvarado is a name you could be hearing soon for the American youth teams. Several players in the Ascenso also made cup appearances including Sonny Guadarrama of Mérida, Marco Vidal from Lobos BUAP, Adrian Ruelas for Veracruz and Jesus Padilla for La Piedad.
The group stage of the Copa Centroamericana is finished. Tournament co-favorites and U.S. Hex opponents, Honduras and Costa Rica, won their respective groups and qualified for the Gold Cup. The runners-up were Belize, headed to the first Gold Cup in the country’s history, and El Salvador, who won a coin flip/draw with Panama. That means Panama and Guatemala will play Friday for the fifth and final Gold Cup berth. Nicaragua has been eliminated.
We’re likely headed for a Honduras-Costa Rica final as expected, but other than the home team, everyone has underwhelmed. Jairo Arrieta, the Costa Rican forward who plays for the Columbus Crew, is the only player to score multiple goals with two.
For Honduras’ part, they’ve been unable to create much of anything in attack and their defense has been leaky. All will be forgiven if they win the tournament, but an upset in the semifinals against Belize would ratchet up the pressure on coach Luis Fernando Suarez.
Liga MX Team of the Week
Club América–América drubbed Atlante in the early Saturday fixture with a 4-0 win. They remain undefeated and look like they might be the early favorite to take the Clausura title. The four goals runs their total to eight over three games played and they’ve only conceded once. While Chivas continues to flounder, Mexico’s other big team is back where their legions of supporters say they belong.
Rafa Marquez Watch
León played the home leg of their Copa Libertadores First Stage match, which is a two-legged tie that sends the winner into the group stages. León are matched up with Iquique and our anti-hero was unable to stop the Chilean side from scoring a wondergoal in the fourth minute. Marquez was subbed out in 11th minute with a leg injury. He’ll miss the club’s next match against Santos but should be back in time for the trip to Chile.
León went on to equalize in the 88th minute and will take heart from being the better side for the vast majority of the match. The highlights are worth watching for the opening goal alone. Rodrigo Díaz, the goalscorer, celebrated by answering his shoe phone.
And that’s why we love football South of the border.
Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) is ASN's CONCACAF correspondent.