By Luis Bueno
If Javier Aguirre speaks the truth, then Mexico is doomed.
Aguirre told reporters on Monday that the current Gold Cup roster is comprised of the top Mexican players.
"From a grand universe of Mexican footballers, the best were called," Aguirre said. "Hopefully they could be with the team in the World Cup, but there are five months left for that appointment and many things could happen. There could be other call-ups. After all, the door is open for everybody."
If true, Aguirre's statement would speak volumes about the talent level in Mexico. Simply put, it is time to forget about the World Cup if Victor Gutierrez and Carlos Ochoa represent the best Mexico have to offer.
Who is Aguirre trying to fool? Even the most casual football supporter knows this Mexico squad is not representative of the true Tricolor.
Truth is, this squad has been assembled for one reason: to find depth for the World Cup. Depth is Mexico’s biggest weakness. When Cuauhtémoc Blanco was injured for one year, nobody stepped up and took his place. Now that he has returned and left the team on his own, Mexico are in the same situation. Nobody has stepped up to fill his role.
Aguirre did not have too many cervezas over the holidays. He is simply trying to encourage the players and fill their heads with thoughts of the World Cup. No harm in that.
The roster is filled with players who will give it their all. Aguirre clearly wants players wearing the national team jersey to prepare to battle for it and defend their country at all costs. (Perhaps this is why laid-back veterans Luis Hernandez, Pavel Pardo and Jose Manuel Abundis have not been called into the team by Aguirre.)
He may find a few diamonds in the rough with this side.
Santos keeper Adrian Martinez could battle for Perez's backup spot. Martinez has shown better form than most other Mexican goalkeepers over the past several years, including standbys Oswaldo Sanchez and Jorge Campos. This role is different for Martinez, however. The Gold Cup is his show. He will be in charge and will dictate what happens in net. The backup role is basically his to win or lose.
Perhaps the national team's most glaring weakness is the midfield. When Aguirre took over, he improved the side by subtracting from it. He went to a strict 5-3-2, eliminating the need for midfielders. But question marks abound about the three incumbents.
On of the most interesting player to watch will be Tomas Campos. The Cruz Azul midfielder has been given chances to play in the past and has not yet fully embraced them. However, this could be different. With less than 10 caps under his belt, he is one of the senior members of this side. Campos may be looked on to provide leadership from either the midfield or defensive spot.
If Blanco's resignation is true, then Aguirre may want to take a long look at Adolfo Bautista as a possible replacement. Despite playing for pathetic Tecos, the feisty Bautista has proven his worth in Mexican football. He is a true scorer. He can score from outside the penalty area as well as consistently clean up rebounds and finish crosses from 10 yards and in.
Bautista has a good shot of cementing himself in the national team. With Jared Borgetti and Francisco Palencia the only two locks at forward, the door is wide-open.
Mexico are not interested in winning the Gold Cup. Palencia and Perez would have been called in if winning were the objective. Aguirre is simply interested in putting on a good show and finding those elusive reserves that could be thrust into action in Japan.