6
Oct

Vucetich with decisions to make after Mexico roster announcement

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Image courtesy of Mexsport

Mexico coach Victor Manuel Vucetich spent the past few weeks evaluating his domestic options ahead of the critical pair of World Cup qualifiers against Panama (Friday in Mexico City) and Costa Rica (Oct. 15 in San José).

It appears he still needs a little more time to decide his course of action.

Vucetich named a 26-man squad for the upcoming pair of qualifiers, three more than the usual allotment. He plans to pare the group down to 23 one day prior to each qualifier to meet FIFA regulations and then name his matchday squad accordingly.

At this perilous stage, every day counts. Vucetich will sort through the following choices over the next few days in a bid to reach the conclusions required to keep El Tri’s hopes of a place in Brazil alive.

Goalkeepers: Jose de Jesús Corona (Cruz Azul), Guillermo Ochoa (AC Ajaccio/FRA), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)

Ochoa should reclaim the number one shirt with the pecking order established in the wake of Jonathan Orozco’s shoulder injury. Orozco represented a wild card of sorts given his extensive history with Vucetich, but Ochoa’s form in Ligue 1 and Corona’s recent struggles dictate the inclusion of the Ajaccio man.

Defenders: Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Miguel Layún (Club América), Jonny Magallón (Club León), Rafael Márquez (Club León), Severo Meza (Monterrey), Hiram Mier (Monterrey), Carlos Salcido (Tigres) Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres)

Vucetich faces a number of selection posers in his back four with Héctor Moreno (hamstring) and Diego Reyes (lack of match practice) omitted. Márquez is expected to step straight back into the starting XI after a lengthy absence from El Tri and his recent form for León. The identity of his partner remains less certain with Ayala perhaps ahead of Magallón to rectify mobility concerns. Layún and Torres Nilo offer ambitious options at either fullback slot, while Meza, Mier and Salcido represent more conservative selections. The stakes suggest a more aggressive deportment in that area with Layún’s recent displays creating a strong case for inclusion.

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31
Aug

Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa returns to square one

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By Kyle McCarthy

This summer has not delivered the rewards Guillermo Ochoa expected.

Ochoa did everything within his power to position himself for a lucrative move. He performed admirably in a poor Ajaccio side last season and stuck to his task even as he angled for a transfer elsewhere. He racked up a few extra caps earlier this year before Mexico coach José Manuel de la Torre opted to return to preferred number one Jesus Corona.

By the start of his club campaign, Ochoa probably expected to turn out for a significant European side on a fairly regular basis. Maybe he even harbored genuine hopes of applying pressure with his increased profile to reclaim his number one shirt with El Tri.

So much for those mooted developments.

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Ochoa joined Carlos Vela in the cast of prominent de la Torre exiles when he rejected overtures to feature as Corona’s backup for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and the United States. He then listened on Saturday as Ajaccio president Alain Orsoni noted a lack of concrete interest from AC Milan or any other purported suitor and suggested it would take a miracle for Ochoa to sign for a new club before the window slams shut on Monday.

At some point, Ochoa must start to wonder whether things will shift in his direction. He can point to his work over the past year or so and reasonably contend that he warrants the number one shirt for his country and a larger club somewhere in Europe.

Instead of fulfilling those ambitions, Ochoa — barring a late swoop inspired by Orsoni’s fairly transparent entreaties — will bide his time on Corsica and wait for patiently for his luck to turn. It isn’t exactly what he envisioned, but the prospect of spending some extra time on a Mediterranean island in the interim at least provides modest compensation for his toil:

Images: (Pascal Pochard-Casbianca/AFP/Getty Images)

23
May

Liga MX Liguilla: Cruz Azul take 1-0 lead over Club America

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Photo: Getty Images

By Kyle McCarthy

Cruz Azul claimed a 1-0 victory over bitter rivals Club América in the first leg of the Liguilla final on Thursday night, but the modest margin between the teams leaves both sides with a chance to lift the trophy.

Both sides failed to hit their best in a bland affair hindered by the rainy and slippery conditions at Estadio Azul and tempered by the looming second leg at Estadio Azteca on Sunday night.

América manager Miguel Herrera played his part in removing some of the excitement by naming a conservative side (the usual 5-3-2 setup with the now customary pair of holding midfielders) and telling his players to keep the match as narrow as possible inside their own half. The approach worked for the most part with in-form winger Pablo Barrera only a fleeting influence on the proceedings.

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