El Tri manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino will cut down roster after the game against Venezuela.
Team Mexico plays Venezuela in Atlanta Wednesday night with a handful of players getting a final audition to make “Tata” Martino’s 23-man Gold Cup roster. El Tri has one more friendly before the Concacaf tournament begins June 15
The outcome of the Venezuela match will be secondary to the performance of the several players on the bubble because coach Martino is under considerable pressure to win the Gold Cup. He won’t want to make a roster selection mistake, so the spotlight will shine brightly on those fighting to survive the final cut.
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Position battles in El Tri
“Tata” presented a 29-man preliminary roster on May 14 and, since then, two players – Monterrey defender Miguel Layún (surgery) and PSV Eindhoven winger Hirving “Chucky” Lozano (knee) – have been forced out. Tigres defender Carlos Salcedo is fighting a fitness battle and León midfielder José Iván Rodríguez is struggling to overcome the ankle injnury suffered in the Liguilla.
If neither Salcedo nor Rodríguez are fit, that means “Tata” will only have to cut two more players to reach the required limit of 23. And if that were to be the case, Monterrey teammates César Montes and Carlos Rodríguez would be able to breathe easier.
Montes is fourth on the central defender depth chart for El Tri (behind veterans Héctor Moreno and Néstor Araujo, as well as Salcedo), while the 22-year-old Carlos Rodríguez finds himself behind Edson Álvarez, Jonathan dos Santos and Andrés Guardado in midfield. Even so, they will have to convince coach Martino that they belong on the El Tri roster by playing well against Venezuela.
Pressure between the pipes
Another key position battle for El Tri is between the posts. Martino invited four goalkeepers to camp and he could conceivably decide that he only needs two. (If so, Montes and Rodríguez will be the beneficiaries.)
Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege) has played in two World Cups, while veteran Jonathan Orozco enjoyed a solid season with Santos and is great with the ball at his feet, a skill coach Martino likes in his goalies.
That means Necaxa’s Hugo González, 28, and young Chivas keeper Raúl Gudiño, 23, could be fighting for the last roster spot. I would expect both netminders to play against Venezuela Wednesday night with Ochoa and Orozco splitting time during Sunday’s match against Ecuador.
El Tri’s quest for its 11th Gold Cup trophy begins June 15 vs. Cuba. Mexico will also face Group A foes Canada (June 19) and Martinique (June 23) with the top two teams advancing to the knockout stage.
Martino took hold of the reins in January and won his only two matches in charge, both friendlies: 3-1 over Chile on March 22 and 4-2 over Paraguay on March 26.