The most striking names in Miguel Herrera’s Mexico squad to face Chile and then Bolivia next month were those of Carlos Salcido and Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez.
Both have produced for El Tri down the years and obviously provide a wealth of experience, but as clamors of “No Era Penal” (It wasn’t a penalty) die down to be replaced with “Where do we go from here?” the answer from most Mexico fans wouldn’t have been to retain Salcido and “Maza.”
Sure, Pachuca’s outstanding 20-year-old right back Rodolfo Pizarro and 21-year-old striker Erick “Cubo” Torres were included. But the names of the 30-year-old center back Luis Venegas and 25-year-old defensive midfield Antonio Rios weren’t expected at all. Both have been regulars in the Liga MX for years without threatening the national team.
It has to be admitted the likes Hiram Mier and Jorges Torres Nilo – established regulars under Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre and now in their prime – are back and set to once again compete, but the squad has a distinctly antiquated feel.
It is almost the polar opposite of Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. squad. He picked one college player (Jordan Morris) and a host of Europe-based youngsters that have yet to feature or have only briefly played in first divisions in the Old Continent.
The average age of the outfield players in the US squad is just 23.1 years, compared to Mexico’s 26.1.
Many - including this writer – thought Herrera might use these first friendlies to take an early look at some of the younger players that have genuinely been exciting in the Liga MX during 2014.
Pizarro was the only one of Pachuca’s upcoming generation to get the nod, but the likes of Dieter Villalpando, Hirving Lozano, Jurgen Damm (although he is injured) and Erick Gutierrez are not far behind.
Over at Atlas, 19-year-old Arturo “Ponchito” Gonzalez’s performances have been very positive for a while now and he seems a natural fit for one of Herrera’s attacking midfield positions.
In Tijuana, defensive midfielder Javier Guemez has some of the tenacity and on-field personality you have to think Mexico’s coach would admire.
Finally, at Santos Laguna, Jose Abella is a fullback who is good on the ball and can play on either side of the field, while the more attack-minded Alonso Escoboza has already been called up to the national team.
But Herrera clearly believes it is too early for them and is maybe happy to let them develop with the U-23s as they progress towards the 2016 Olympic Games. Perhaps he wants to retain the core of the World Cup squad to keep the excellent team spirit going.
Whatever the Mexico manager’s plan, the difference between the two CONCACAF rivals puts them in stark contrast in their first moves post-Brazil 2014.
At least in Mexico’s case, the generational change in the national team will have to wait.