Los Angeles Soccer: Elias Hernandez

MEXICO: No Vela, Aguilar for Gold Cup

May, 13, 2011
5/13/11
8:04
PM PT

Javier HernandezSteve Lopez/LatinContent/GettyImagesMexico Forward Javier Hernandez

Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre has whittled his roster to 23 players for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and England-based forward Carlos Vela and Pachuca defender/midfielder Paul Aguilar are not among them.


They're the biggest omissions for El Tri heading into the June 5-25 regional nations championship, which will wrap with a Rose Bowl final -- with U.S.-Mexico the anticipated matchup.

The big names are here -- from goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to backline leader Rafa Marquez to attacking stars Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Giovani Dos Santos -- as the Mexicans seek their second straight crown and sixth in 11 tournaments since the Gold Cup was established in 1991.

De la Torre had included Vela, who started two games at last year's World Cup in South Africa, and Aguilar, starter in one, on his 30-man preliminary roster. Also among the 30 but not on the final roster was Guadalajara defender Jonny Magallon, who was on the World Cup roster but did not play, and Jonathan Dos Santos, Giovani's younger brother, who famously declared he'd never play again for Mexico after he was among the last cuts from the World Cup list.

Vela, who plays for West Bromwich Albion on loan from Arsenal, has seen little playing time during the English Premier League season.

De la Torre has returned Brazilian-born playmaker Zinha and Monterrey midfielder Luis Perez, who were on the 2006 World Cup team, to the team and promoted several players, including goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, defender Edgar Dueñas, midfielder Jesus Zavala, and forwards Aldo de Nigris, Elias Hernandez and Angel Reyna, all on whom are on the roster. Zinha, Talavera and Dueñas played for de la Torre at Toluca.

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MEXICO: Herculean effort, then a Q&A

April, 13, 2011
4/13/11
12:33
AM PT
Herculez Gomez has been looking to make his mark with Pachuca, among Mexico's finest clubs the past decade, after leading the Mexican Primera Division in scoring a year ago at Puebla.

It has not been easy. The Los Angeles-born, Las Vegas-raised forward, who emerged as team MVP when the Galaxy won the 2005 MLS Cup title, has struggled to make an impact off Pachuca's bench after scoring 10 goals, most of them as a substitute, in last year's Clausura, or spring, tournament.

Gomez, whose exploits at Puebla led to a roster spot for the U.S. at last year's World Cup, scored just once during the fall Apertura and had been held without a goal this Clausura as the Tuzos slumped near the bottom of the standings. Until last weekend.

The 29-year-old forward came off the bench, naturally, to score twice and set up a third goal as Pachuca (4-5-4) routed last-place Jaguares, 3-0, to vault from 16th to 12th overall and within three points of the playoff zone.

Gomez came on in the 63rd minute for Edgar Benitez, gave Pachuca a 70th-minute lead on a near-post header, then struck a sensational free kick for a 2-0 advantage in the 78th. A minute later, he assisted Franco Arizala.

“Thanks for never loosing [sic] faith,” Gomez tweeted after the game. “I know this is just the beginning for us. Feels great to score but it feels even better to win at home.”

This does seem familiar. Pachuca, which has won five Primera Division titles since 1999 and last year claimed its third CONCACAF Champions League titles in four years and fourth since 2002, won its final three regular-season games to get into the Apertura playoffs, exiting after holding to-be-champion Monterrey to two draws.

The schedule is pliable. The Tuzos, still last in Group 2, have a real test Wednesday night at Group 1 leader UANL Tigres, but their final three foes (Atlas, Gallos Blancos and Necaxa) are minnows in unremarkable form.

A FEW ANSWERS: Gomez celebrated his big day by holding a Q&A with fans on his Facebook page. A few highlights:

Q: Do you have a pregame pump-up song?
A: Journey, “Don't Stop Believin'.”

Q: Which comes first, the U.S. national team or your club team?
A: My club pays me, but my country made me.

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MEXICO: Isaac Acuña steps up, cuts down Santos' boss

February, 22, 2011
2/22/11
4:51
PM PT
Calexico's Isaac Acuña is starting to flower, following his first Primera Division appearance in nearly a year with a game to remember.

Acuña, 21, scored in his first start in Mexico's top league to lead Gallos Blancos de Queretaro (2-4-1), who started the week at the bottom of the Clausura standings, to a stunning 2-0 triumph at Santos Laguna (3-3-1).

Acuña scored in the third minute -- he took a pass from Eder Borelli as he slipped past the backline, dribbled past goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez and knocked the ball into the open net -- and fed Carlos Bueno for the second goal just before halftime.



Santos' fans answered with jeers after a second successive 2-0 home loss, and coach Ruben Omar Romano, who guided the Torreon-based club into the Apertura final, was dismissed after cameras caught him making an offensive gesture to fans, after which he criticized the supporters.

“His behavior went against the values that the club stands for and promotes, which is why the decision was taken to end our working relationship with immediate effect,” the club said in an announcement on its Web site. Said club president Alejandro Irarragorri: “This is a deeply hurtful decision, but we must be consistent with our values and responsibility as a model team. Ruben reacted negatively to pressure from the fans, and that's something we can't cover up.”

Fellow Argentine Diego Cocca, 38, was hired to replace Romano. Cocca, a former right back who counts Atlas, Veracruz and Gallos Blancos among the nearly dozen clubs for which he toiled, previously has managed three Argentine clubs, most recently La Plata's Gimnasia y Esgrima.

Acuña, who is with Queretaro on loan from America, played 35 minutes in a 5-0 loss Feb. 12 to Toluca. He made his debut last April 10, playing five minutes for America in a victory over Jaguares.

SINCE 5-0: The most alarming result of the Clausura occurred in week one, when Atlas, the worst team in the fall Apertura, throttled a decent (or so we thought) Morelia side, 5-0. After three games, Atlas had matched its fall win total and sat atop the overall table.

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