Marshall: Deserved call-ups for Gonzalez, Guemez

The two newest faces in Miguel Herrera's squad have earned their places through excellent club form.

Arturo “Ponchito” Gonzalez was not one of the most prominent members of Mexico’s Under-17 World Cup-winning side back in 2011.

Julio Gomez, Antonio Briseno, Richard Sanchez, Carlos Fierro and Marco Bueno were all more heralded and earned more column inches than the now-20-year-old basking in the news of his first full Mexico call-up for the upcoming games against Honduras and Panama.

Gonzalez has outshone them all when it comes to taking the jump from prospect to first team Liga MX regular. Now’s he beating them in making the next step up to national team level at an age very few do in Mexico.

On Tuesday evening, after his club side Atlas had defeated Ronaldinho’s Queretaro 2-1, the Reynosa, Tamaulipas native spoke to the press. It was in his usual deadpan way, not giving much away and trotting out the usual clichés about how he would be proud to be in the national team, but would also keep on working hard to improve.  

He still doesn’t look comfortable talking, even after the 2011 World Cup exploits and 40 Liga MX games. On the brink of becoming a full international, it is something he’ll have to get used to.

Luckily for him, Atlas and Mexico, Gonzalez looks entirely in his environment on the field.

Mainly featuring on the left wing this season, Gonzalez has started all eleven of Atlas’ games, scoring four goals. Fast, tricky and with a strong work ethic, the left footer has a little bit of the Andres Guardado about him when he first burst onto the scene at Atlas.

Off the field and away from the cameras, Gonzalez has already won one important plaudit in Atlas coach Tomas Boy, who wouldn’t normally go out of his way to heap praise on a player.

“Poncho Gonzalez has a special gift, he takes responsibility, has important talents, traits and virtues as a person that help him in his development,” said Boy back in August. “He has tremendous individual characteristics that mean he can compete with anyone on the field.”

The major doubt when it comes to Gonzalez at present is what his best position is, although Mexico under coach Miguel Herrera is likely to play him on the left side of the midfield triangle.

There is no such room for debate when it comes to the other player to get his first call-up to the Mexico squad on Wednesday: Javier Guemez.

The 22-year-old is a midfield battler who has something of the Gennaro Gattuso about him. Guemez relishes flying into tackles and the fight in the center of the field, but it would be unfair to suggest that is all there is to his game. The Culiacan, Sinaloa native can also play a bit, with a range of passing and a decent long-range shot.

Whereas Gonzalez has long been on the radar, Guemez has been busy clocking up minutes in the third division, before making the step up to Dorados de Sinaloa and on to Xolos, where he made his debut in August 2013.

For both, the call-up represents an opportunity early in the process towards Russia 2018 to make a statement and stake a permanent place in Herrera’s plan. They are certainly capable of doing so based on what they’ve shown in the Liga MX.