Mexico’s hectic summer became a little clearer when coach Miguel Herrera announced his provisional squad for the 2015 Copa America on Monday. Mexico will compete on two fronts this summer, with the Concacaf Gold Cup following almost immediately on from next month’s South American championship in Chile. To cope with the demanding schedule, Herrera will select two distinct squads, meaning that, while the Gold Cup party won’t be revealed until June, Monday’s announcement provided plenty of clues.
It has already been made clear that the Gold Cup will be the priority. After the United States took the trophy in 2013, Mexico needs to win, not just to regain continental bragging rights, but also to earn a playoff with the U.S. for the right to go to the 2017 Confederations Cup. Thus Herrera’s first-choice selection, including the likes of Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, Carlos Vela and Hector Herrera, will be heading north. However, there is one significant caveat.
Rafa Marquez may not have played for Mexico since last year’s World Cup, but the 36-year-old’s almost unrivaled experience and status as his country’s captain has long been expected to see him lead the squad at the Gold Cup. Instead, he will be the most senior member of the party that travels to Chile, leaving Porto youngster Diego Reyes likely to form part of the back three.
Overall, Hellas Verona defender Marquez is the exception rather than rule in terms of the balance of the two squads between European and Liga MX based players. Indeed, Atlético Madrid striker Raul Jiménez and FC Twente winger Jesús “Tecatito” Corona -- who will also be available for the Gold Cup -- are the only other players who operate in Europe who will be involved in Chile next month.
It means that it is Guillermo Ochoa who gets the nod in goal for the Gold Cup, with Cruz Azul’s Jesus Corona going to the Copa America. After a closely fought battle in the lead up to the event, Ochoa won the No. 1 spot for the 2014 World Cup. Yet while he impressed greatly in Brazil and earned a move to Malaga as a result, Ochoa has yet to make a single La Liga appearance this season.
Meanwhile, Corona has impressed for both club and country. Rather than a reflection of their ability, however, the fact that, after Cruz Azul missed out on Liga MX’s Liguilla, Corona will be available to take full part in Mexico’s preparations for the Gold Cup may have played a major part in the decision.
Other than Marquez and Corona, the Copa America party is one largely thin on experience, especially in defense. Herrera has experimented with finding two distinct lineups since last year’s World Cup, and it has been at the back where his options have been most stretched. There will be an onus on the likes of Carlos Salcedo, who only made his international last month, to help guide Mexico to the semifinal target that has been set by the federation.
As for midfield, there will be a chance for Chivas’ Marco Fabian to begin to deliver on his undoubted potential on the international stage. And, after cruelly breaking his leg on the eve of last year’s World Cup, Luis Montes will get the opportunity to go to a major tournament. Up front alongside Jiménez, Eduardo Herrera will be aiming to start after the Pumas striker scored on his full debut for El Tri against Paraguay at the end of March. Among those likely disappointed to only make the list of alternates will be young Pachuca starlet Jurgen Damm and Chivas’ Isaac Brizuela.
Goalkeepers: Jesús Corona (Cruz Azul), Meliton Hernández (Veracruz), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
Defenders: Adrian Aldrete (Santos), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), George Corral (Queretaro), Julio Dominguez (Cruz Azul), Gerardo Flores (Cruz Azul), Miguel Herrera (Pachuca), Rafael Marquez (Verona), Carlos Salcedo (Chivas), Efrain Velarde (Monterrey)
Midfielders: Javier Aquino (Rayo Vallecano), Jesus Corona (FC Twente), Marco Fabian (Chivas), Javier Güemez (Tijuana), Juan Carlos Medina (Atlas), Luis Montes (León), Mario Osuna (Querataro)
Forwards: Enrique Esqueda (Tigres) Eduardo Herrera (Pumas), Raul Jimenez (Atlético Madrid) Javier Orozco (Santos)
Alternates: Isaac Brizuela (Chivas), David Cabrera (Pumas), Jurgen Damm (Pachuca), Luis Fuentes (Pumas), Alfonso Gonzalez (Atlas), Enrique Perez (Atlas), Rodrigo Salinas (Pachuca)