Breaking down the national team roster
The start of a new qualification cycle always comes with a healthy amount of expectations. If Mexican fans are guilty of anything, it's putting high (some would say unrealistic) hopes on their national team. Undoubtedly, though, Mexico -- which has won most every major tournament in CONCACAF in the past two years -- has wrestled away the title of dominant team in the region from the United States, and next month's first two World Cup qualification matches serve as the introduction of the next era of Mexican soccer. The rally for Brazil 2014 will officially begin.
The expectations, though always grand, now come with a sort of justification. European club teams have their eyes on Mexican talent because Mexican players have shown incredible potential at the international level. The time for the national team to begin living up to those expectations begins on June 8 with Mexico's World Cup qualification match against Guyana at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Four days later, Mexico will travel to San Salvador to match up against El Salvador in the second qualifier. The El Tri blog will take a closer look at those matches in a couple of weeks.
Admittedly, matches against the 89th ESPN SPI-rated team in the world (El Salvador) and the 122nd-rated team (Guyana) shouldn't provide much of a challenge, but a stumble in either match could prove psychologically troublesome. This is a team and a fan base that believes Mexico can accomplish great things in Brazil. Anything short of two wins in those qualifiers will be a resounding disappointment and a cause for a rethinking of the roster.
Last week, the FMF announced a 23-man squad (see below) that will travel to the United States to face Wales (May 27 in East Rutherford), Bosnia (May 29, Chicago) and Brazil (June 3, Dallas) in three tuneup matches. From this 23-man roster, Mexico will select its squad for the two qualifiers.
With Carlos Vela declining an invitation to participate, the roster didn't bring much shock. Tactically, Mexico shouldn't look differently than it did in winning the Gold Cup. Javier Hernandez will still be counted upon to score goals from passes by attacking midfielders Gio dos Santos, Andres Guardado and Pablo Barrera.