There may not have been major surprises in Miguel Herrera's Mexico squad to face the United States on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., but it still provided plenty of insight into the manager's thoughts heading toward the World Cup.
Originally, the Mexico coach named 19 players, with Jose Juan "Gallito" Vazquez not on the final 18-man list — he was reported to have lost his passport following a car accident Sunday night.
Aside from Vazquez and the duo of Jesus Corona and Oribe Peralta — who all seem to be guaranteed a place in the squad for Brazil — certain other names stand out because of their absence.
The fact Aldo de Nigris misses out is a bitter blow to the Chivas player and also the all-Mexican club, which looks like it won't contribute any players to Brazil 2014. De Nigris scored a very good goal for Chivas against Saturday and played well, but Alan Pulido and Raul Jimenez were the only two strikers named Thursday.
The message from Herrera seems to be that his four forwards at the World Cup will come from Pulido, Jimenez, Peralta, Javier Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos. With Peralta out, surely this was the time to bring in De Nigris, if Herrera has even the slightest intention to call him up.
Chivas teammate Jorge Enriquez has also been in decent form and, considering his displays at the Olympics, may have had an outside shot at the squad.
Another trend is the demise of old campaigners like Cruz Azul's Gerardo Torrado and Tigres' Carlos Salcido. It is becoming increasingly clear that their days in the Mexican national team are over.
In goal, Jonathan Orozco has been shunted to the back of the line by Herrera favorite Moises Munoz and it appears the game against rivals the U.S. will define whether it will be Munoz or Alfredo Talavera who travels to the World Cup this summer.
Also missing out are the likes of Tigres duo Hugo Ayala and Jorge Torres Nilo, Monterrey's Severo Meza, Angel Reyna, Jonny Magallon and Jesus Molina — all of whom would've been clinging on to some hope about getting a chance against the United States.
Instead, Herrera has given the opportunity to Rogelio Chavez, Marco Fabian and Jesus Zavala. Chavez earns his first call-up after a great start to the season for Cruz Azul. The 29-year-old can challenge for a place in the squad with a good performance at right wingback. His competition for the spot appears to be Pachuca youngster Rodolfo Pizarro, while Paul Aguilar also looks like being the starter at the World Cup.
Fabian has a huge opportunity to shine and will need to do so. Competition in the attacking midfield roles is fierce and while it is generally recognized that few Mexican players have his attributes, he is likely just missing out on a place in the squad at present.
Zavala's inclusion is intriguing because of where he might play. The Monterrey midfielder certainly provides a stronger physical presence in the holding role than Juan Carlos Medina or Vazquez, but is usually given more license to go on the offensive for his club side, whereas Herrera's defensive midfielder glues the team together and has to be positionally excellent.
If you were to take a stab at the starting lineup, you'd have to think the Toluca players (Talavera, Isaac Brizuela, Miguel Ponce) who were pulled out of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal will get a shot, as well as Atlas' Enrique Perez and Cruz Azul's Chavez and Fabian, who also missed out on a CCL semifinal.
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