Tom Marshall: Herrera’s keys versus the United States

Tom Marshall walks through five questions surrounding Miguel Herrera's team ahead of El Tri's friendly against he USA.

Miguel Herrera has been in charge of El Tri on a full time basis less than four months, but is already in a race against time to chisel down his squad ahead of June’s World Cup. 

Wednesday’s match against the United States in Phoenix, Arizona will be Herrera’s last chance to see his players– minus the Europe-based ones – in action in Mexico shirts ahead of his provisional squad announcement on May 13. 

It was always going to be this way with the timescale of Herrera’s rushed appointment, but it accentuates the importance of Wednesday’s clash, even putting the US-Mexico rivalry to one side.   

Here are five questions Herrera will be looking to resolve:

Alan Pulido or Raul Jimenez?

It seems unfair to these young Mexican strikers that Wednesday’s game could be decisive in deciding if one or the other will be in Brazil, but that may be the reality.

Both Pulido and Jimenez seem to be behind Oribe Peralta, Giovani Dos Santos and Javier Hernandez in the pecking order and with only four going to the World Cup, seeing them both starting the game and playing on the same field promises to be intriguing.

Jesus Zavala to return to being a regular?

The Other Side
Herrera isn't the only manager in Wednesday's game trying to answer some tough questions.

Juren Klinsmann has a group of youngsters looking to grab the spotlight, but comes into the game thin at the outside back spots.

The USA boss has also tweaked his staff heading into the game. 

There was a time not too long ago that Zavala was heralded as the long-term future of Mexico’s midfield, but his inconsistency coupled with injuries hampered his progress.

The 26-year-old may get a chance to shine in the heart of El Tri’s midfield against the United States in the holding role. With Juan Carlos Medina not starting for America in Sunday’s clasico, the race for that position is becoming increasingly open.

The Marco Fabian conundrum

Is Fabian worth the risk? Can he adapt to Herrera’s system? How will he integrate into the squad?

There are more questions than answers when it comes to the Cruz Azul player.

At present, he has serious work to do to make the squad for Brazil, but it’ll be up to him to prove on Wednesday that he can be a catalyst for the team’s offense and a shrewd card to play late in games when Mexico needs something a little bit different.

Can the manager settle on reserve center backs?

Pachuca’s Miguel Herrera, Atlas’ Enrique Perez and America’s Juan Carlos Valenzuela all seem unlikely call-ups, but ones the Mexico coach has been keen to take looks at. Tigres’ Hugo Ayala has been discarded, while Monterrey’s Hiram Mier has been missing through injury.

Perez will likely get some minutes against the United States to show Herrera he is ready to become a permanent member of the squad and step in if Diego Reyes isn’t available.

Rogelio Chavez as the backup right back?

The right back or right wing back has been a problem position for Mexico stretching back to the last World Cup, with Efrain Juarez fading, Severo Meza temporarily claiming it, then Gerardo Flores, followed by the current holder Paul Aguilar.

In Herrera’s 5-3-2 (or 3-5-2) system, the emphasis on the wing backs is to go forward and attack and Chavez will be hoping to do enough to at least earn a place in the squad, even if it does look as though Aguilar’s position is unshakable at present.