'That's one of the secrets' - Martino looking to keep Mexico players pushing for places

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Jim Watson
The manager said he prefers to have his players wondering if they have a place in the national team rather than feel their spot is guaranteed

Mexico's players may go back to their clubs wondering about their role with the national team. El Tri manager Tata Martino wants it that way.

Martino has called in a 31-man squad for Friday's game against the United States and Tuesday's meeting with Argentina, meaning some players are unlikely to see minutes during the entire international break.

"I think that's good," he said at a news conference. "I wouldn't like the players to return with the certainty that they've got their spot one. One of the secrets of a national team is keeping a bit of distance because we're not always together like a club, keep up the level of demand and competition between the players so, in every moment, the manager has difficulty making choices."

The manager alluded to the fact that the fourth goalkeeper he's called in likely wouldn't play and also said that while Tigres right back Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez and Monterrey center back Cesar Montes each are training with the national team, both will leave after the first game to return to their clubs. Neither will play against the United States as they recover from knocks.

Even without those defenders, Martino said he'll look to use two different starting XIs over the course of both games.

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"We'll try to put together two very competitive teams, understanding what it means to face the United States and understanding what it means to face Argentina - and with the strong conviction to play good football and without losing focus on the desire to win the game - every one of the games," he said. "There could be an isolated case, it's not going to be common as manager, that a player repeats as a starter in the two games. It's a very small chance. One, who knows, maybe two, but the vast majority of it will be one team Friday and another Tuesday."

Martino is yet to taste defeat since taking over as Mexico coach in January of this year, winning four friendly matches against South American teams before rolling to victory in the Gold Cup. That team didn't have several players who had been regulars in the previous cycle, with Napoli winger Hirving Lozano, Sevilla forward Chicharito, Atletico Madrid midfielder Hector Herrera and Porto winger Jesus "Tecatito" Corona all missing out.

The television broadcast time for the game against the U.S. is 8:30 p.m. ET with the match against Argentina set for a 10 p.m. ET start.

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