Los Angeles Soccer: Jesus Zavala
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.
Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre's debut Wednesday night as Mexico's national team coach -- with a 2-0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Atlanta -- offered a few clues on how El Tri will move forward under his direction and who will lead the way.
The former national team midfielder, hired in October from Mexican league power Toluca, fielded a veteran lineup, for the most part, while providing opportunities to a few more inexperienced players. Atlas' Edgar Pacheco took advantage, scoring from Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona's punt to double Mexico's advantage in the 55th minute.
Pacheco, 21, was the lone starter without double-digit caps. De la Torre's lineup was as close to first-choice as any missing New York Red Bulls midfielder/defender Rafa Marquez and West Brom forward Carlos Vela.
De la Torre gave Monterrey midfielder Jesus Zavala, 23, his first cap, Toluca forward Nestor Calderon his second, and Santos Laguna forward Jose Maria Cardenas and Monterrey forward Aldo de Nigris their third off the bench. He also used Monterrey midfielder Luis Perez, who last played for Mexico nearly two years ago.
Manchester United's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez also scored for Mexico, his 12th goal in 21 international appearances, knocking home the rebound after Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic saved his penalty kick.
De la Torre's verdict: "I think it's a good start. It's always good to start a new project. You have to keep in mind that we had little time together."
Jose de Jesus Corona/Cruz Azul; Paul Aguilar/Pachuca, Francisco Javier Rodriguez/PSV Eindhoven/Netherlands, Hector Moreno/AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands, Carlos Salcido/Fulham/England; Pablo Barrera/West Ham United/England (Jose Maria Cardenas/Santos Laguna, 68), Gerardo Torrado/Cruz Azul; Israel Castro/Pumas UNAM (Jesus Zavala/Monterrey, 88), Edgar Pacheco/Atlas (Nestor Calderon/Toluca, 73); Giovani Dos Santos/Racing Santander/Spain (Aldo de Nigris/Monterrey, 58), Javier Hernandez/Manchester United/England (Luis Perez/Monterrey, 80).
Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre's first Mexico roster features a healthy share of the regular crew -- the Chicharitos and Giovanis and Torados -- a couple of newcomers among those looking to cement their spot in the player pool, and two old standouts returning to El Tri after absences of almost two years.Zinha, Toluca's Brazilian-born playmaker, and Luis Perez, a midfielder for Monterrey, were part of Mexico's 2006 World Cup team and contributed during the qualifying campaign for last year's World Cup in South Africa, and their presence for Wednesday's clash against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Atlanta (TeleFutura/KFTR Channel 46, 5 p.m. PT) restores international careers that elapsed when Javier Aguirre took charge in April 2009.
Zinha last suited up for El Tri in a 5-1 romp over Bolivia on March 11, 2009, in Commerce City, Colo. Perez made his last appearance in a World Cup qualifying loss at Honduras on April 1, 2009, two days before Aguirre replaced Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson.
De la Torre, a former Mexican national team midfielder, was hired Oct. 18 to succeed Aguirre, who resigned after guiding Mexico to the World Cup round of 16. Wednesday's match is his first as El Tri manager.
His roster includes 11 players from the team in South Africa -- including star forwards Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Giovani Dos Santos, both based in Europe, and captain Gerardo Torrado, the veteran (three World Cups) holding midfielder from Cruz Azul -- and a half-dozen who were on the roster four years earlier in Germany.
A half-dozen players based in Europe have been called in, but not forward Carlos Vela, who was just loaned from Arsenal to fellow English Premier League team West Bromwich Albion, or midfielder Efrain Juarez, who plays for Scottish powerhouse Celtic FC. Their six-month suspensions, for their involvement in a team party following a Sept. 7 match against Colombia in Ciudad Juarez, expire next month.
Hernandez (Manchester United), Dos Santos (Racing Santander, on loan from Tottenham), midfielder Pablo Barrera (West Ham United) and first-choice defenders Carlos Salcido (Fulham), Francisco Javier Rodriguez (PSV Eindhoven) and Hector Moreno (AZ Alkmaar) comprise the foreign legion.
Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera and Monterrey midfielder Jesus Zavala hope to make their international debuts. Talavera is expected to back up Cruz Azul's Jose de Jesus Corona, who was a backup at the 2006 World Cup. Five others on the roster have played just once or twice for the full national team.