On Saturday, the Mexico National Team will play their first of three friendlies ahead of the start of the Copa America. Mexico manager Miguel Herrera already named his group of 23 players that will be participating in South America’s biggest tournament.
Here is a look at what you need to know from Herrera’s squad as they get ready for their June 12 debut against Bolivia.
Maybe the most disconcerting thing about this team was Herrera’s choice of defenders. Herrera left a spot open for captain Rafael Marquez, but questions still remain about who will occupy the rest of the defensive positions.
On paper anyway, tactically this team is expected to lend their opponents more of the ball but could probably do better with additional talent at the back.
Herrera may consider bringing Carlos Salcedo into the fold after a stellar first season with Chivas. Salcedo has gathered interest from abroad and played a huge part in leading his team to the semifinals. He can play on both sides of the field and his recent impressive form makes him a serious contender for a starting spot.
While it’s hard to argue with Herrera’s choice of wing-backs, Mexico leave a lot to be desired on both flanks. Keep in mind that Mexico are taking their better players to the Gold Cup, and this has hurt Mexico’s Copa America selection process.
It’s true that there are players like Adrian Aldrete that can alternate towards the wing, but his level of comfort on the left wing could be put to the test if Herrera decides to start him there. Herrera must play his cards right if he doesn’t want to make his wing-backs a focal point for other team’s attacks.
By now it is no secret that Miguel Herrera loves to deploy his 5-3-2 formation. We can expect the 5-3-2 to make its appearance at the Copa America, but can we expect some variations too?
Even in a 5-3-2, there are plenty of options for Miguel Herrera to tinker with. There is enough diversity in styles in the midfield that Herrera can more or less develop a decent gameplan for any game.
Ecuador already played Mexico once and they were successful in finding spaces between the midfielders. In Mexico’s following friendly, Herrera reverted to a more defensive minded midfield. While it didn’t produce much in terms of explosiveness, it did secure up an inexperienced back-line and it allowed Mexico to control the tempo of the game.
As an alternative, Herrera always has the option of playing his wingers as interior midfielders. Javier Aquino and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona are better suited to play wide, but with space to run at defenders, it doesn’t matter where they are on the field. Providing they have the adequate players around them, Aquino and Tecatito can be a formidable option.
Then there is the Marco Fabian option. This option is starting Fabian up top with a lone striker like he did with Chivas through the season. Herrera briefly used Fabian in this position in a friendly before the 2014 World Cup but failed to return to it a second time. Fabian generally dropped back for service and did a relatively good job creating space for teammates at Chivas. He won’t be your traditional No. 10, but we all know the talent that Fabian has on both of his feet.
Maybe the most surprising decision was Herrera’s choice of including the 33-year-old Argentine-born forward Vicente Matias Vuoso. Up top, Mexico have no shortage of forwards with a physical presence, but a lack of balance and speed is notable.
Raul Jimenez is probably the most complete forward on the team, which makes it very likely he will be the one starting on June 12. Jimenez won’t be going to the U.S. to play in the Gold Cup, and that means the Atletico Madrid forward is set to play a huge part with this team from the beginning.
Aerially, this front line could do more than past Mexican sides. Height isn’t an issue here, and Eduardo Herrera is a prized addition to this squad. Even if Eduardo Herrera doesn’t start, bringing him off the bench in late game situations is a great idea.
The other options are the aforementioned Vuoso and Enrique Esqueda. Esqueda has starred for Tigres in the Copa Libertadores, while Vuoso has been in good form for Chiapas. The problem is both have not played a game with El Tri in five years.
A final option could be Tecatito Corona. His versatility could be important as somebody who can play as a winger, inside midfielder, and a forward. He is definitely not a target striker, but Tecatito is somebody who can lead off the flank and provide some extra speed up top.