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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6
Oct

Klinsmann names roster for USA World Cup qualifiers

United States men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann dropped his long-awaited roster for the two final World Cup qualifiers at home against Jamaica on Oct. 11 and away to Panama Oct. 15 on Sunday afternoon. The games are more or less meaningless, since the USA secured qualification with a 2-0 home win against Mexico on Sept. 10.

Which is just as well, because this roster is more notable for the names not on it, or those that barely made it on there, than those players who are fit and playing regularly.

Clint Dempsey continues to battle a persistent hamstring injury that has kept him from getting into a regular rhythm since joining the Seattle Sounders this summer. Michael Bradley still hasn’t recovered from the ankle sprain he suffered in pregame warmups before the loss to Costa Rica on Sept. 6.

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Image courtesy of Getty

That means the U.S.’s two most important players, the men dictating the pace and rhythm, are absent.

Overall, the goalkeepers constitute the only line that’s complete, with Brad Guzan, Tim Howard and Nick Rimando all fit and thriving for their clubs. In defense, however, Steve Cherundolo still isn’t over his surgery, Timmy Chandler either remains in the doghouse for refusing call-ups or is still refusing them, and sometime-back Fabian Johnson isn’t 100 percent either and wasn’t called in.

In midfield, the aforementioned Johnson isn’t available on the left. Fellow winger Alejandro Bedoya did make the squad, but missed his last FC Nantes game because of sickness, so his status is questionable. Also unclear is the situation surrounding Jermaine Jones, who may or may not need meniscus surgery and was suspended for his club Schalke recently.

Up front, the group is in pretty decent shape. But Landon Donovan has also had fitness concerns of late. Herculez Gomez, recently back from a niggling knee injury, is back playing for Xolos in Mexico but didn’t get called in – Terrence Boyd got the call instead.

It is, in short, a roster littered with question marks.

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26
Mar

Earthquake rattles Mexico City, World Cup qualifier still on

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Image from @NickRimando

By Leander Schaerlaeckens

Mexico City, Mexico

On the morning of the most tempestuous soccer game in the region between archrivals Mexico and the United States, an earthquake shook the country. The US Geological Survey measured its magnitude at 5.5 while Mexico’s Seismology Service registered it at 5.9.

Buildings reportedly swayed here in the capital city, 227 miles northwest of the quake’s epicenter, while earthquake alarms sent people fleeing into the streets in some parts of the country. No damage was reported anywhere across town, however. In the southern section of Mexico City, where the US is staying a few miles away from the Estadio Azteca, where the game will be played, the earthquake was barely even felt.

It hit at 7.04am local time, followed by a slightly milder aftershock eight minutes later, and most people slept through it. A US Soccer spokesman said only a few team-members even noticed the tremble. Defender Omar Gonzalez took to Twitter and joked about the earthquake to his followers, saying “first a snow storm… Now an earthquake? We’re not messin’ around!”

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As such, the early-morning rumble isn’t expected to have any effect on Tuesday night’s game whatsoever. The US is primed for a tough contest in difficult conditions – altitude, smog, more than 100,000 raucous Mexican fans with a habit of hurling objects and liquids at the Americans – and this blip will barely register.

The US team goes into Tuesday night’s game full of confidence – “110,000? Yes, please,” US forward Herculez Gomez tweeted Monday night. “If this doesn’t get you going then you don’t have a pulse.” – having taken its first ever win at the Azteca in 25 tries last August. And a minor incident like a shudder in their beds will hardly dull their focus and desire.

As Gomez told journalists on the eve of the game, “Anything can happen.” That includes earthquakes, and its impact on the US team will be same as it was on local infrastructure – non-existent.

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