Tuca Ferretti won't lead Mexico into the future, but he's coaching them in the present.
Though the Tigres manager and El Tri interim won't take the job over full-time as previously speculated, he's still committed to coaching Mexico in both this friendly window and the next, should the Mexican federation still be in the process of finding a coach.
It falls to Ferretti to decide what approach to utilize for October's friendly matches against Costa Rica and Chile. The matches are taking place on Mexican soil, a rare occurrence with El Tri frequently visiting the United States for its international dates, so it could be a chance to bring in a largely domestic roster. It is a full FIFA date, though, so it's also another chance to build chemistry among Europe-based players who will be the base of the national team ahead of the 2022 World Cup, and more urgently the 2019 Gold Cup.
For our projection, we're betting Ferretti goes with the latter. September's matches against Uruguay and the United States saw a number of stars make their way across the Atlantic while Ferretti also gave opportunities to young Liga MX-based players. The mix should continue, but with each passing window, more and more veterans will need to be involved as Mexico looks to round into a competitive team that can achieve regional dominance.
Here's Goal's projected 23-man squad:
Guillermo Ochoa (Standard), Hugo Gonzalez (Necaxa), Gibran Lajud (Tijuana)
This worked out for Ferretti in September and could do the same in October. It would be nice to see Lajud actually get time after Ferretti went with Ochoa for the entire match against Uruguay and Gonzalez for all 90 minutes against the U.S. Tossing the Xolos prospect right into the mix against Costa Rica might be a good idea, though Ferretti also could platoon the goalkeepers and give Gonzalez a half.
He also might consider a call-up for Chivas goalkeeper Raul Gudino. The newly minted star of the Clasico Nacional has been on an upward trajectory since returning to Guadalajara this summer. He's only 22 and has plenty of international experience at the youth level. Maybe it's the right window to have Ochoa rest up in Belgium while an entirely new crew of goalkeepers accumulate experience.
Nestor Araujo (Celta de Vigo), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Jesus Angulo (Santos Laguna), Gerardo Arteaga (Santos Laguna), Jose Abella (Santos Laguna), Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez (Tigres), Edson Alvarez (America), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey)
Araujo had started every Celta match this season until Monday, when Antonio Mohamed made a number of changes. He came in as a substitute and clearly has adjusted well to life in La Liga. Along with the injured Carlos Salcedo, Araujo will be the base of the national team's defense in the next cycle. The more minutes he can get with the team, the better it will be for Mexico.
The Santos trio of Angulo, Arteaga and Abella had varying levels of success during the September window, but all three have performed well enough both with Los Guerreros and in their brief national team careers to get more opportunities going forward.
Ayala and Rodriguez would be best suited for the match in El Volcan, where home fans can see their players in the green of El Tri. Ultimately, the Gold Cup this summer should be their final bow, but their inclusion now won't hurt.
Oswaldo Alanis left Real Oviedo's match this weekend with an injury. Even if he bounces back, Ferretti should recognize it's more important for him to (finally) get settled somewhere than to be part of these contests. Cesar Montes could get a look thanks to recent minutes with Rayados, as could Diego Reyes after he missed out on the World Cup with an injury and in September as he looked to shore up his club situation.
Hector Herrera (Porto), Erick Gutierrez (PSV), Roberto Alvarado (Cruz Azul), Jonathan Gonzalez (Monterrey), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Victor Guzman (Pachuca), Erick Aguirre (Pachuca)
Herrera wasn't included in the previous call-up, and Porto hasn't always played nice with the Mexico national team. That said, he doesn't fit into the same category as players like Hector Moreno, Chicharito or Andres Guardao. Mexico knows what those players can do, and if they're fit for the 2022 World Cup it would be more of a surprise than not. At 28, Herrera is just hitting his prime, will be 32 at the next World Cup and could be a leader for Mexico in the next cycle.
His experience would be welcome in a group that otherwise is pretty raw. Jonathan dos Santos is in good form with the Galaxy and also could be part of the next World Cup. After that, you're looking at a midfield made up entirely of U-23 players. Guti now boasts Champions League experience, but it was Guzman who stood out in the previous window with his impressive game against the U.S. He's continued to show his quality after returning to Tuzos and should be in Tuca's plans. Where to play him is a bit of a question. Not as much with Alvarado, though he can play on the wing, in the middle or up top, or Gonzalez.
If Diego Lainez is healthy, by all means he should get another call-up. However, the ankle issue that has kept him off the field for America might mean he's not available for this month's matches either. Marco Fabian is another player with experience who has a strong desire to be part of the next cycle and may back in the picture this month.
Hirving Lozano (PSV), Raul Jimenez (Wolves), Alan Pulido (Chivas), Jesus "Tecatito" Corona (Porto), Jurgen Damm (Tigres)
As long as Lozano, the most in-form Mexico player, wants to answer the call, Ferretti should keep calling him. The same goes for Jimenez, who apparently wanted to play both Mexico's September matches. He's had assists in back-to-back weeks in the Premier League, showing how well he plays with his back to goal. With Chicharito unlikely to make the next World Cup, Jimenez emerging as a player who combines well with dynamic wingers would be welcome for Mexico.
Pulido has scored in each of his last three games, with the previous call-up seeming to reignite the forward, who could return to the stadium he used to play in when he came up with Tigres. Damm is a player Ferretti has leaned on at the Volcan as well, while Tecatito should be part of the national team going forward as well.
The roster ends up looking pretty defense-heavy. Ferretti may look to remedy that by bringing in more than 23 players and sending home Europe-based players who aren't in the picture for the second game like he did in the previous window. That gets a bit more difficult this window, though, because unlike in September, the game that looks like it will be a stronger test for Mexico is the second not the first.