Omar Govea, midfielders get chance to impress in Mexico friendlies

Omar Govea, midfielders get chance to impress in Mexico friendlies
From ESPN - March 14, 2018

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio named his 28-player squad Wednesday for upcoming friendlies against Iceland on March 23 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, and four days later against Croatia at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

There were surprise inclusions, the notable omission of Giovani dos Santos because of injury and welcome returns for goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera and forward Marco Fabian after sustained periods out of the squad due to long-term injuries.

Here's a rundown of the main themes in this key announcement with a view to understanding what Osorio is thinking about his squad for Russia 2018 in El Tri's first full meet-up since November.

The surprise inclusions

There were not any names on the list that came from absolutely nowhere as every player in the squad has already earned caps for the full national team. But midfielders Omar Govea (Royal Excel), Jonathan Gonzalez (Monterrey), Jesus Molina (Monterrey), Jorge Hernandez (Pachuca), Jurgen Damm (Tigres) and Rodolfo Pizarro (Chivas) were not guaranteed to be on this list and yet each of them has a final opportunity to impress.

Belgium-based Govea's rise of late has been particularly notable. The 22-year-old has been getting regular playing time at his club and appears to now have a genuine chance of making the World Cup roster.

The call-up for dual-national midfielder Gonzalez, whose Monterrey team has struggled of late, helps prove that his switch from the United States was not simply due to Mexico wanting to tie him down. The 18-year-old could well be the future of El Tri's midfield and this upcoming camp, his first with Mexico's European legion, will be key to Osorio ascertaining just how ready Gonzalez is to take on more responsibility at the international level.

Govea and Gonzalez look set to battle it out for a potential spot at the World Cup with Pachuca's Hernandez and Monterrey's Molina, who has played mainly as a center back this season. Damm remains an Osorio favorite due to his blistering pace.

Overall, however, this is a stable squad and one that fits in line with how Osorio has refined a core group since he took over. The 14 foreign-based player (excluding Govea) are fairly certain of their places for Russia, as are Liga MX goalkeepers Talavera and Jesus Corona, Santos Laguna defender Nestor Araujo and Pumas' Jesus Gallardo.

It's the final five places in the eventual 23-player squad that are in doubt.

Notable omissions

The alarm bells should really be starting to sound for those players not on this list and who are not injured.

Pachuca midfielder Erick Gutierrez, Chivas midfielder Orbelin Pineda, Monterrey center back Cesar Montes, Leon winger Elias Hernandez, Tigres' Jesus Duenas, Santos Laguna's Jose Juan "Gallito" Vazquez, Club America's Paul Aguilar and Chivas' Oswaldo Alanis will all be feeling as if their World Cup dream is very distant right now.

Giovani dealt injury blow

Marquez's wait on status continues

Talavera and Fabian return


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