The Luis Pompilio Paez era is coming to a close.
It wasn't a glorious run for the Mexico assistant coach who took over managerial duties during Juan Carlos Osorio's six-match suspension. Mexico crashed out of the Gold Cup in the semifinals against Jamaica, meaning Osorio still has another game to go in his ban for acosting the fourth official in the third-place game of the Confederations Cup.
So, it will once again be Pompilio Paez on the sidelines for Mexico's World Cup qualifier against Panama, while Osorio will return to the bench in San Jose when El Tri meet Costa Rica.
There was no confusing it during the Gold Cup, though. This is still Osorio's team - for better or for worse. He's still running the training sessions and giving the news conferences. And he's definitely still making the decisions about who is and isn't on the list for these games, matches that could see Mexico officially clinch qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Goal takes a look at the 23 men Osorio may call in to face Panama and head to Costa Rica in a window Mexico hopes will be the last meaningful one in World Cup qualification.
Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Moises Munoz (Puebla)
Alfredo Talavera's knee injury suffered in week one of Liga MX with Toluca makes the third goalkeeper position an interesting one. Guillermo Ochoa is stuck in Groundhog Day, suffering a 4-0 defeat Friday with Standard just months after moving from La Liga where he regularly saw high numbers of shots find the back of his net. Still, there's no question that he's Mexico's best goalkeeper, and his showings with El Tri haven't disappointed in quite some time.
Corona's recovery from the injury that kept him out of the Confederations Cup is long behind him, as evidenced by his starting role in the Gold Cup. The third spot could go to Munoz or Chivas shot-stopper Rodolfo Cota, or even a younger goalkeeper, but the experience Munoz can provide and his standing in the locker room should see him earn the nod.
Hector Moreno (Roma), Diego Reyes (Porto), Nestor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Miguel Layun (Porto), Paul Aguilar (America), Jesus Gallardo (Pumas), Edson Alvarez (America)
Hector Moreno is the first name on the team sheet and Diego Reyes and Nestor Araujo aren't far behind. The center backs form the core of Osorio's teams, and Moreno's status as Mexico's best defender sometimes overshadows that he's also one of the team's best passers - certainly when it comes to playing out of the back. Now that he's had a few games back fit with Club America, Paul Aguilar could be welcomed in for the first time in the Osorio era to play right back. Miguel Layun still isn't starting in Portugal but consistently performs for El Tri, while Jesus Gallardo's ability to play either left back or winger is an asset Osorio prizes.
Carlos Salcedo is a potential inclusion, but the injury he suffered with Mexico in the Confederations Cup could be an obstacle. If he doesn't make it, the coaching staff showed it's willing to rely on young Edson Alvarez as a right back during the Gold Cup and also had him train with the veterans in the Confederations. Rafa Marquez's recent designation by the United States Treasury Department likely will keep him out of action for the September window.
Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Hector Herrera (Porto), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Jesus Molina (Monterrey), Orbelin Pineda (Chivas), Jesus Duenas (Tigres)
Most of the names in the midifeld are no-brainers. Guardado is needed, Dos Santos was superb at the Confederations Cup and already is back to playing games thanks to his MLS move, and while Hector Herrera hasn't been seeing tons of minutes with Porto, he's still getting into games. Molina's strong Gold Cup, and his status as a true defensive midfielder which is something in short supply for El Tri, should earn him the call as well.
Rodolfo Pizarro didn't fit in well during the Gold Cup and had a frustrating tournament, but he does continue to play well with Chivas and may be a surprise inclusion. For now, Osorio likely will go with Jesus Duenas, who can play in the midfield and at the back.
Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez (West Ham United), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Jesus "Tecatito" Corona (Porto), Hirving Lozano (PSV), Oribe Peralta (America), Jurgen Damm (Tigres)
Jesus Corona missed the Confederations Cup with a personal issue, but he should be ready to come back into the fold for El Tri. When he's available, he's been one of the players who Osorio leans on the most. There's no doubt he'll be included. The same goes for Chicharito, Jimenez and Lozano. Peralta got plenty of praise from both Osorio and Luis Pompilio Paez during the summer tournaments and with Amreica required to loan his services also seems a strong choice for inclusion.
Here we come to our most notable omissions. Maybe we're reading too much into Oosrio's puzzling decision not to call on Carlos Vela during the Confederations Cup semifinal against Germany. After all, he started him and kept him in the extra-time defeat to Portugal in the third-place game. But while Osorio respects MLS and will continue to call in players like Jona, Vela's LAFC move may not have sat well with him. A quick start with Real Sociedad may change that, but while Vela would be a nice addition to the team, Mexico may not need him to lock up qualification.
Giovani dos Santos' inclusion very much depends on the state of his hamstring. If he's fully fit, he may be included, but his absences for the Galaxy so far may be enough for Osorio to leave him off the list.