Mexico and coach Miguel Herrera will begin their busy summer of action when taking on Guatemala in a friendly international in Chiapas on Saturday. El Tri will be performing double-duty at both the Copa America and Gold Cup over the next two months, although there will be two almost completely distinct squads going to the two continental competitions. On Saturday, Herrera’s Copa America selection will get their first run out.
Mexico are now regular invitees to South America’s championship and this time take on hosts Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador in the group stage, starting with a clash against Bolivia on June 12. They will also be taking on fellow Copa America participants Peru and Brazil in friendly matches in South America ahead of the tournament, after their sendoff match on home soil against Concacaf foes Guatemala.
El Tri will also take on Guatemala at the Gold Cup, a competition that Herrera has clearly prioritized given that victory in it would secure Mexico a playoff against the United States for the right to go the 2017 Confederations Cup. Already Herrera has revealed that European-based squad members from last year’s World Cup like Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, Carlos Vela, Hector Herrera, Miguel Layun and Andrés Guardado will be heading to the Gold Cup.
In contrast, only four European-based players have been called up for what is a far less experienced squad for the Copa America, with the exception of veteran captain Rafa Marquez. Still, Herrera has insisted that the squad that will be going to Chile is not a “B” selection. And one of those players who joined the squad from Europe this week, Raul Jimenez, has welcomed the confidence of his coach, who has said he sees no reason why Mexico can’t reach the final.
“We are encouraged that Miguel has such confidence, we have to think about translating that to a great tournament,” he said, according to the official Copa America website. “To be champions you have to beat anyone, and we can do it, we are a large group. A good team was put together, we have experience and youth.
"We come with that desire to achieve something important. We will not settle for just improving on what was done in Argentina  -- we hope to make history.”
In the last Copa America Mexico lost all three games in the group stage, scoring just one goal. Their hopes of improving on that record will depend much on the performances of Jimenez. The 24-year-old started just 17 matches in his first season in La Liga with Atlético Madrid, but scored a spectacular and crucial goal in getting Mexico to the 2015 World Cup and is expected to lead the line at the Copa America alongside Eduardo Herrera.
Herrera has already been forced into a change from his squad, with Pachuca center-back Miguel Ángel Herrera having to withdraw from injury, leading to the call up of Atlas’ Juan Carlos Valenzuela.
Guatemala don’t begin their Gold Cup campaign until July, but they will be preparing in earnest for a two-legged World Cup qualifying round against Bermuda next month. They will be aiming to build some momentum having lost three of their four matches in 2015.
Kickoff time: 6 p.m. EDT
TV channel: ESPN News, Univision Deportes, UniMas