There is no question what the headline news is from the announcement of Juan Carlos Osorio’s squad for Mexico’s upcoming friendlies in October against New Zealand and Panama. Just a few months after rejecting the chance to go to the Copa America Centenario and seemingly doing serious damage to his chances of further involvement under Osorio, Giovani dos Santos has been recalled to the fold.
Dos Santos has not featured for El Tri since the 2015 Gold Cup and his move to Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy. But his recall comes after scoring 14 goals in 26 games in MLS this season.
"I have been working really hard to be back there [with the national team] and I am very excited about having the opportunity to represent my country once again," Dos Santos told the LA Galaxy website. "I am in great shape, and the team [Galaxy] are in great shape. I go back with confidence and to do my best to help the national team."
The 27-year-old’s return is not the only notable aspect of Osorio’s selection for two matches that will act as preparation for Mexico’s opening match of the World Cup qualifying Hexagonal against fierce rival United States in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 11
Giovani dos Santos’ brother, Jonathan, is also back in the picture, rewarded for his performances in the midfield for Spanish La Liga side Villarreal. Marco Fabian, another player impressing in Europe, also gets a nod after making a flying start to the new season at Eintracht Frankfurt. Chivas striker Alan Pulido, who previously endured struggles at Olympiacos, returns to a Mexico squad for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.
There are also plenty of notable omissions. Osorio has opted to leave out experienced European-based players Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, Guillermo Ochoa, PSV Eindhoven duo Héctor Moreno and Andrés Guardado as well as Porto trio Jesús "Tecatito" Corona, Miguel Layun and Hector Herrera. Veteran Rafael Márquez is also left out, though it is likely the 37-year-old has similarly been rested ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifiers.
One player who won’t be nearly so sure of being involved when the real business starts next month is Carlos Vela. The Real Sociedad forward has again been left out and, given the players absent this time around, it is hard to envision him being a part of Osorio’s plans against the U.S.
After a historic 7-0 defeat to Chile in the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario, there was considerable doubt as to whether Osorio would be around for the start of the Hexagonal. He has hung onto his job for now but knows that he now has no room for error. Thus, even friendlies against New Zealand and Panama, in Nashville, Tennesee, and Chicago, respectively, have plenty riding on them for the embattled Colombian.
Goalkeepers: Moisés Muñoz (América), Jesús Corona (Cruz Azul), Rodolfo Cota (Chivas)
Defenders: Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Hedgardo Marín (Chivas), Oswaldo Alanís (Chivas), Jordan Silva (Toluca), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres)
Midfielders: Jesús Dueñas (Tigres), Adrián Aldrete (Cruz Azul), Luis Robles (Atlas), Jesús Molina (Santos Laguna), Jonathan dos Santos (Villarreal), Orbelin Pineda (Chivas), Erick Gutiérrez (Pachuca), Elías Hernández (León), Marco Fabián (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Forwards: Ángel Sepúlveda (Querétaro), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Isaac Brizuela (Chivas), Giovanni dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Oribe Peralta (América), Alan Pulido (Chivas)
Oct. 8: vs. New Zealand (6 p.m., LP Field, Nashville)
Oct. 11: vs. Panama (9.30 p.m., Toyota Park, Chicago)