Predicting the Mexico Squad for the 2018 World Cup

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2014

Predicting the Mexico Squad for the 2018 World Cup

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    It's early, but it's certainly not too early to start assessing Mexico's options for the 2018 World Cup. Miguel Herrera will have a great pool of players from which to pick his 23-man list.

    All of these footballers have already worn El Tri jersey, either in youth competitions or in international tournaments with the senior team.

    These players have proven to be on track to becoming Mexico's future generation. Many of them have already won Olympic medals, Confederations Cups and world championships.

    Their mindset, technique and talent will be key for El Tri in the upcoming years.

    All statistics appear courtesy of FEMEXFUT, unless otherwise noted.

Guillermo Ochoa

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    Age: 28

    Position: Goalkeeper 

    Club: Unattached

    Guillermo Ochoa will be one of the veterans on the team in 2018. Ever since his debut with Club America, when he was just 19 years old, Ochoa has proven to be a safe option.

    He gave a brilliant performance at the 2014 World Cup. His quick reflexes and dives were key during El Tri's four games vs. Cameroon, Brazil, Croatia and Netherlands.

    Ochoa shouldn't have any problem appearing as the starting goalkeeper in Russia.

William Yarbrough

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    Age: 25

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Club: Leon

    The Leon goalkeeper has already been capped to represent Mexico at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. He was born in the state of Aguascalientes to American parents.

    Though he has already secured two league titles with Leon, William Yarbrough has a lot to learn, but he makes good saves—especially through dives.

    His aerial game is not very sharp, but he will definitely get better.

Jose Antonio Rodriguez

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    Age: 22

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Club: Guadalajara

    Jose Antonio Rodriguez played with Mexico U23 in 2012, becoming one of the footballers who secured the Toulon Tournament and qualified for the 2012 Olympics.

    Rodriguez didn't play at the Olympics because Jose de Jesus Corona secured one of the three overage spots in the squad and eventually took over the starting position.

    He has also appeared with the U20 squad at the CONCACAF Championship and the World Cup, held in 2011.

    Despite being so young, he is already first-choice 'keeper at C.D. Guadalajara.

Miguel Ponce

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    Age: 25

    Position: Left-back

    Club: Toluca

    Miguel Ponce is also one of the brilliant members of the 2012 U23 squad. His fierceness and strength make him one of the country's most promising left-backs.

    He is very fast and can run all the way through the goal line. His fine touch allows him to put deadly diagonals and crosses into the box with ease.

    Ponce travelled to Brazil but didn't appear in any of Mexico's World Cup games as Miguel Herrara favours Miguel Layun.

Antonio Briseno

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    Age: 20

    Position: Centre-back

    Club: Tigres UANL

    Antonio Briseno caught the media attention during the 2011 U-17 World Cup.

    He is a very reliable defender who knows how to keep his teammates calm. There's no wonder why he has worn the captain's armband ever since.

    He won the Milk Cup in 2012 and a year later secured the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, where he was recognized as the most valuable player of the tournament.

    Briseno had been playing for Atlas since he was a kid, but he will play with a different Liga MX squad in the upcoming Apertura tournament after signing for Tigres UANL.

Hector Moreno

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    Age: 26

    Position: Centre-back

    Club: Espanyol

    Hector Moreno is the future leader of the Mexican back line.

    After Rafael Marquez's brilliant performances with El Tri, Moreno has quite a task in front of him, but he has what it takes to accomplish the feat.

    Currently playing for Espanyol, Moreno won the 2005 U-17 World Cup held in Peru, along with Carlos Vela, Efrain Juarez and Giovani dos Santos.

    He has already appeared in two World Cups—South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014—and by Russia 2018 he will be one of the most experienced Mexican footballers in the world, which won't hurt.

Diego Reyes

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    Age: 21

    Position: Centre-back

    Club: Porto

    Diego Reyes quickly became on of the best defenders of his generation thanks to his height and endurance. He has represented Mexico at the CONCACAF U-17 Championships and the U-17 World Cup.

    Reyes went through the exact same process but with the U-20 squad two years later.

    His breakthrough came in 2012, when he won every tournament the U23 squad played.

    He left Club America in 2013 and has been part of Porto ever since. Although he hasn't had much playing time, Miguel Herrera capped him for the 2014 World Cup, where he debuted after Hector Moreno’s injury.

    Reyes has a lot to offer to the team, it's just a matter of time and maturity before he reaches his peak.

Hiram Mier

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    Age: 24

    Position: Centre-back/right-back

    Club: Monterrey

    Hiram Mier is a flexible defender. He can play in the center of the box or take the right flank with the same success.

    He is very fast, and at the 2013 Confederations Cup, he proved to be a fantastic addition to the attacking zone.

    Mier was the captain of the U23 squad at the 2012 Toulon Tournament and the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. He delivered the captain's armband to Jose de Jesus Corona at the summer Olympics.

    He could have debuted in a World Cup in Brazil, but he missed the tournament due to a knee injury that sidelined him in November 2013.

Rodolfo Pizarro

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    Age: 19

    Position: Right-back

    Club: Pachuca

    Rodolfo Pizarro is a talented defender whose speed and fine touch allow him to take a more offensive role when his team needs to change the strategy.

    Pizarro received his first call-up to the first team in January 2014, and he eventually debuted later that month in a warm-up match against South Korea.

    Pizarro didn't make the final 23-man list this summer, but the fact that he was considered to play during the selection process is huge.

    He recently appeared in the Toulon Tournament, where Mexico finished sixth. Pizarro's endurance, hunger and speed set him as one of the footballers to watch in the upcoming years.

Jesus Alonso Escoboza

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    Age: 21

    Position: Left-winger

    Club: Santos Lagna

    Alonso Escoboza is a very intelligent winger who can join the attack from the flank or by cutting into the box.

    He joined Santos Laguna as a kid, but he was loaned to promotion league side Necaxa in 2012. It was a very important move for Escoboza, giving him playing time and experience.

    He eventually returned to Los Guerreros, where he has played in the Liga MX and the Copa Libertadores.

    With the national team, he has appeared in the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and the U-20 World Cup, where he scored a combined three goals in eight games.

    He made his debut with El Tri in a friendly against Finland and appeared in the two-legged playoff vs. New Zealand in which Mexico secured their World Cup ticket.

Carlos Fierro

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    Age: 19

    Position: Left-winger/forward

    Club: Guadalajara

    Carlos Fierro amazed with his power and fierceness at the 2011 U-17 World Cup. El Wero scored three times in the tournament to help Mexico secure the title. He received the Bronze Ball.

    Two years later, he made the U20 squad that traveled to Turkey for the World Cup, where El Tri lost in the round of 16. In 2014, he joined the team that finished sixth in the Toulon Tournament.

    Fierro has been a regular sub with Guadalajara, and since he is not the only forward on the team, he has had to adjust to a different position.

    That's why he is constantly seen on the left flank rather than through the center of the pitch.

Marco Fabian

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    Age: 24

    Position: Left midfielder

    Club: Cruz Azul

    Marco Fabian showed his true potential in 2012 when he was part of the team that won the gold medal at the Summer Olympics.

    Part of this success was the change in position. Fabian had previously been used as a forward or second striker, but the truth is he is better and more skillful when he plays as a left midfielder.

    Fabian's fine touch is a very valuable asset in set pieces and long-distance shots. Although he lost his way in 2013, his last year with Guadalajara, he recovered as soon as he arrived in Cruz Azul.

    Fabian was a sub during the 2014 World Cup. However, he made the team at the last minute.

Carlos Pena

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    Age: 24

    Position: Left midfielder

    Club: Leon

    Carlos Pena was supposed to be the starting left midfielder in Brazil, but after Luis Montes' injury and Andres Guardado's impressive performances, he stayed on the bench.

    However, El Gullit is just 24 years old and has already proven to be a complete midfielder.

    He can help the defense when in distress, plus he becomes a fantastic addition to the attacking zone.

    He is very fast and creative, which gives Mexico a lot of depth.

    With his club, he is an undisputed starter and has already won two Liga MX titles.

Jose Juan Vazquez

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    Age: 26

    Position: Central midfielder

    Club: Leon

    Jose Juan Vazquez was an unknown footballer until he arrived in Leon in 2011.

    He is a complete central midfielder. He can keep the ball and distribute it accurately, without compromising his defensive role.

    Vazquez had played four friendly games with Mexico before his World Cup debut, during which he appeared in all three group-stage matches. He missed the round-of-16 clash due to suspension.

    If El Gallito keeps up the good work with Leon, where he has won two league titles, he will be at his best in four years.

Jonathan Espericueta

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    Age: 19

    Position: Central midfielder

    Club: Villarreal B

    Jonathan Espericueta first appeared on the world scene in 2011. He was part of the U17 squad that secured the World Cup title.

    He scored twice during the tournament and was awarded the Silver Ball.

    Espericueta is a very creative midfielder who joins the attack on a regular basis. One of his most valuable assets is his fine touch.

    The Villarreal B footballer has a powerful long-distance shot and is a fantastic ball feeder.

Hector Herrera

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    Age: 24

    Position: Right midfielder/central midfielder

    Club: Porto

    In 2012, he showed his skills to the world at the Toulon Tournament, where he was named Best Player. Later that year, he helped his team secure the gold medal at the Summer Olympics.

    His performance throughout the year caught the attention of Portuguese club Porto, where he has been playing since July 2013.

    Jose Manuel de la Torre capped him for the Hexagonal and the Confederations Cup, both held in 2013, but he didn't perform well.

    Hector Herrera went back to his old ways under Miguel Herrera's command and became a key figure during Brazil 2014.

    The Porto midfielder will only get better after his stellar performance at the World Cup.

Jesus Manuel Corona

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    Age: 21

    Position: Right-winger

    Club: Twente

    Jesus Corona made a fantastic impression with the U20 squad during the 2011 and 2012 Milk Cup. In the first, he was named Most Valuable Player, after helping Mexico defeat Denmark in the final showdown.

    Corona also played at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship and the U-20 World Cup, both held in 2013.

    He was a regular player for Monterrey, where he debuted at age 17. After three years with the club he left for Europe.

    El Tecatito arrived in Twente in 2013, when the season had already started. In 15 appearances with the Dutch club he has already scored two goals.

Isaac Brizuela

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    Age: 23

    Position: Attacking midfielder

    Club: Toluca

    Isaac Brizuela had been playing for Toluca since his youth years until he left on a loan for Atlas.

    El Conejito needed more playing time, which he got with Los Zorros. After spending the 2013 Clausura in Guadalajara he returned to Los Diablos Rojos.

    Brizuela managed to score three times and also recorded one assist.

    He made his senior debut at the 2013 Gold Cup, though it was essentially a B team, since the senior squad was getting ready for the Confederations Cup.

    Miguel Herrera gave him his first opportunity with the A team against South Korea in January 2014. He eventually took him to the World Cup, though he didn't play.

    El Conejito is a fantastic midfielder who can play on the flanks or through the center of the box. His aerial game is sharp and so is his creativity.

Giovani dos Santos

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    Age: 24

    Position: Attacking midfielder

    Club: Villarreal

    Despite being so young, Giovani dos Santos is already a veteran with the national team. He has appeared in two World Cups, one Confederations Cup and two Gold Cups.

    Dos Santos largely played as a winger for Mexico since 2010, but under Miguel Herrera's command, he went back to his natural position as attacking midfielder.

    Gio is one of the most creative, elusive and fast Mexicans in world football. He has an enviable touch and his dribbling skills are superb.

    Since he has been playing regularly with Villarreal he has matured a lot.

Marco Bueno

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    Age: 20

    Position: Forward

    Club: Toluca

    Marco Bueno is set to debut with Toluca in the upcoming 2014 Apertura after spending one season with Estudiantes Tecos from the Ascenso MX league.

    Bueno was instrumental for Estudiantes, and he helped them secure the title and fight for a chance to return to the Liga MX.

    He made his professional debut with Pachuca, where he had been since his youth years. It was with Los Tuzos that he was named Best Rookie of the 2012 Clausura.

    His performance with at the 2011 U-17 World Cup was key in helping Mexico secure the title. He scored once, in the round of 16 against Panama.

    Two years later, he was part of the U20 squad that won the CONCACAF Championship.

    He has a great touch, intelligence and sharp instincts.

Ulises Davila

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    Age: 23

    Position: Attacking midfielder

    Club: Cordoba

    In 2011, Ulises Davila became a player to watch after his fantastic performance with the U20 squad at the Toulon Tournament and CONCACAF U-20 Championships.

    Davila didn't return to Guadalajara and instead signed a deal with Chelsea. But the Mexican didn't play at all with the Blues and instead was loaned to Vitesse, Sabadell and Cordoba.

    It was with the Spanish Segunda Division club that he made a difference. He scored seven goals in 37 appearances, including the equalizer that secured his team a spot in La Liga for the 2014/2015 season.

    Davila is a powerful footballer who can finish plays and create them easily. He is elusive, accurate and very fast.

Raul Jimenez

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    Age: 23

    Position: Forward

    Club: Club America

    Raul Jimenez is one of the few footballers from the 2014 World Cup squad that will make it to Russia 2018.

    Jimenez was a sub during the 2012 Summer Olympics, but little by little he proved his worth, especially after a stellar season with Club America, which included the 2013 Clausura title.

    He is one of the most trusted men of Miguel Herrera, and if he continues to perform like he has with Las Aguilas, he will be an undisputed starter in the upcoming World Cup.

    His body build and height make him one of the most complete Mexican forwards.

Alan Pulido

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    Age: 23

    Position: Forward

    Club: Tigres UANL

    Alan Pulido didn't make the 2012 Olympic squad, despite being a driving force for the U23 team during the Toulon Tournament and the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.

    He scored six goals in 10 appearances across the two tournaments. His speed and knack for scoring have always been his most valuable assets. Plus, he can score with both his head and feet.

    Pulido debuted with the senior squad in a friendly vs. South Korea. It was a dream come true for the Tigres forward because he scored a hat-trick.

    Although he played in five more games and made Miguel Herrera's 23-man list for the 2014 World Cup, Pulido didn't play in Brazil.

    However, if he continues to mature, he will appear in Russia.