2015 Copa America Preview: Mexico's Alternative Squad Looks To Reach New Heights

Mexico is one of the toughest teams to analyze for this upcoming Copa America. The decision of manager Miguel Herrera of presenting an alternative squad for the tournament didn’t sit well with some of the fans who wanted the team to make some noise in Chilean soil but it might prove to be an intelligent decision since Mexico will also have to play the Gold Cup, tournament that will start only a few days after the final of the Copa America.

Due to this, the leading stars of the Mexican side won’t come to Chile to face the hosts, Ecuador and Bolivia. Names like Guillermo Ochoa, Javier Hernandez, Andres Guardado and Hector Herrera are household names when it comes to talk about the Mexican side but none of them will be present. That doesn’t mean, however, that Mexico will have a weak side in the competition.

The mixture that Herrera has chosen for the Copa America combines youth and experience rather well.  On one side there are players that already know what it feels to play with Mexico at the highest level like Rafael Marquez, Jose Corona, Raul Jimenez and Marco Fabian de la Mora while on the other end, there are youngsters looking to create some space in future call-ups such as Javier Güemez, Jesus Corona, George Corral and Carlos Salcedo.

If there’s one thing that remains steady when comparing both Mexican sides is the system – Herrera doesn’t want to try new things against tough opponents so he has decided to play with this squad with the scheme that he’d use had he been with the regular starters.

The three goalkeepers are on a similar level but the popular opinion is that Herrera will go with Corona as the starter simply because he’s the more experienced of the three. In front of him, Mexico will have five defenders but it can easily become a three-man defensive line depending on the circumstances of each game. Adrian Aldrete is expected to guard the right flank with Efrain Velarde on the opposite side. Between them, there will be three CBs – Rafael Marquez is the captain and he will be accompanied by Hugo Ayala and Julio Cesar Dominguez, although Carlos Salcedo is an option to start.

Mexico will employ two central midfielders and one a bit more forward to act as the permanent link between midfield and attack. The defensive duties are expected to be handled by Twente’s playmaker Jesus Manuel Corona and veteran defensive specialist Juan Carlos Medina, with Marco Fabian de la Mora in front of them to act as the connection with the two forwards that are expected to be Raul Jimenez and Eduardo Herrera.

Jimenez didn’t have many minutes with Atletico Madrid this season and one of the reasons why he’s been included in this squad instead of the Gold Cup one is because the manager wants to give him minutes away from all the pressure that would mean the CONCACAF region. Next to him, Herrera hopes to cement his place as a viable option for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers.

Expectations are certainly high for this team and manager Miguel Herrera has recently said that “our aim is to win the Copa America. I know we will present an alternative squad but this time isn’t weaker than the one we will have in the Gold Cup so I’m expecting a good performance from the players.”

Being a title candidate might be a stretch but Mexico certainly has enough power to breeze their way through the Group Stage. Chile might be a tough team to overcome but they should be able to defeat Ecuador and Bolivia so they shouldn’t have problems to reach the next round. From there, it all depends on the matchup but it wouldn’t be strange to see Mexico as one of the top four teams once the tournament is over.

Official 23-man roster:

GKs: José de Jesús Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca) y Meliton Hernández (Veracruz).

Defenders: Rafael Márquez (Hellas Verona, ITA), Jerry Flores (Cruz Azul), Carlos Salcedo (Guadalajara), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Miguel Herrera (Pachuca), Efraín Velarde (Monterrey), Adrián Alderete (Santos), Julio César Domínguez (Cruz Azul).

Midfielders: Mario Osuna (Querétaro), Juan Carlos Medina (Atlas), Javier Güemez (Tijuana), Jesús Manuel Corona (FC Twente, NED), Javier Aquino (Rayo Vallecano, SPA), Luis Montes (León), Marco Fabián (Guadalajara).

Forwards: Raúl Jiménez (Atlético de Madrid, SPA), Enrique Esqueda (Tigres), Matías Vuoso (Chiapas), Eduardo Herrera (Pumas).