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Thursday, March 17, 2011
El Tri welcomes back party-poopers

By Scott French

Mexico's roster for its end-of-March friendlies, including the March 29 date in San Diego, has been released, and sure enough, Carlos Vela and Efrain Juarez are on it.


No surprise: The pair did their penance following the fallout from their roles in an "unauthorized" party after a victory last September over Colombia in suburban Monterrey.

Vela, a forward who plays for West Bromwich Albion in England on loan from Arsenal, and Juarez, a defender on the books at Celtic FC in Scotland, were tagged with six-month suspensions, which kept them out of only one match, Jose Manuel de la Torre's debut as head coach last month in Atlanta.

Both return just as preparations begin in earnest for the June 5-25 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and that's no coincidence. The suspension, along with fines to other players, sparked a player protest that led to national teams director Nestor de la Torre's resignation; substantial punishment, deserved or not, was never an option.

They're among 23 players, nine based in Europe -- yes, Manchester United's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Racing Santander's Giovani Dos Santos are included -- headed to California for friendlies March 26 against Paraguay in Oakland and March 29 against Venezuela at Qualcomm Stadium.

Also back is defender Ricardo Osorio, from Monterrey, who is aiming for his first appearance since last summer's World Cup. Osorio's gaffe in the round of 16, his last game for Mexico's national team, helped Argentina to a 3-1 victory.

Veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa (America), defenders Rafa Marquez (New York Red Bulls) and Francisco Javier Rodriguez (PSV Eindhoven), and winger Andres Guardado (Deportivo La Coruņa) are in their first camp with de la Torre, a former national team midfielder who guided Guadalajara and Toluca to Mexican Primera Division titles.

The full roster:

GOALKEEPERS
Guillermo Ochoa (America)
Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)

DEFENDERS
Paul Aguilar (Pachuca)
Edgar Duenas (Toluca)
Jonny Magallon (Guadalajara)
Rafa Marquez (New York Red Bulls/MLS)
Hector Moreno (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands)
Jorge Torres Nilo (UANL Tigres)
Ricardo Osorio (Monterrey)
Francisco Javier Rodriguez (PSV Eindhoven/Netherlands)
Carlos Salcido (Fulham/England)

MIDFIELDERS
Israel Castro (Pumas UNAM)
Andres Guardado (Deportivo La Coruņa/Spain)
Efrain Juarez (Celtic FC, Scotland)
Luis Perez (Monterrey)
Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul)
Zinha (Toluca)

FORWARDS
Pablo Barrera (West Ham United/England)
Aldo de Nigris (Monterrey)
Giovani Dos Santos (Racing Santander/Spain)
Elias Hernandez (Morelia)
Javier Hernandez (Manchester United/England)
Carlos Vela (West Bromwich Albion/England)