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Vega: Mexico is Gold Cup fave despite stars out

USMNT's Gregg Berhalter praises the Mexican federation for its success in CONCACAF and says the organization has set the benchmark for MLS and U.S. Soccer.

Mexico coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino may be without Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Carlos Vela, Hector Herrera and Jesus "Tecatito" Corona for this summer's Gold Cup, but 21-year-old forward Alexis Vega still believes El Tri goes into the tournament as favorite.

"We've always seen that Mexico is favorite to be Gold Cup champion, we are conscious of the responsibility we have from day one that we turn up," said Vega in a press conference on Tuesday in Mexico City.

- Marshall: Vela's snub hints at issues within El Tri camp

"If we have the 'CONCACAF giant' tag we have to reaffirm it on the field, in each game," said 23-year-old Chivas goalkeeper Raul Gudino in the same press conference. "We can't just say nice words, we have the responsibility to show it on the field to keep that tag and be the team to beat."

A lot of the talk surrounding the Mexico squad for the CONCACAF tournament has focused on the star names that have missed out, although the youngsters respect Vela, Herrera and Hernandez's personal decisions not to play for Mexico this summer.

"Teammates' decisions should be respected," said Vega. "In my case, it is always a source of pride to represent your country. Those who come should do so with lots of attitude."

Only eight players took part in training on Tuesday, including Raul Jimenez and Erick Gutierrez, although Hirving Lozano and Edson Alvarez both worked away from the group as they recover from injuries.

Lozano's club season ended after being stretchered off with a leg injury in PSV Eindhoven's April 25 match against Willem II.

Former LA Galaxy forward Giovani dos Santos also featured in part of the session, despite not being included in Mexico's 29-player preliminary squad, while he continues to search for a new team.

The rest of the squad is scheduled to start training in coming days, after their participation with club sides comes to an end and they have their allotted rest.

One of those set to join up in coming days is goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who is adamant Mexicans should try to seek opportunities outside of Liga MX.

"Hopefully a lot of Mexicans leave and come to Europe, it's not all Italy or Spain," Ochoa said in an interview with ESPN. "It could mean Turkey, Scotland, Belgium, [leagues] we maybe under-appreciate in Mexico, maybe because we don't watch them, but they are respected."

Ochoa added that the development of young Mexican players are affected by the amount of foreign players in Liga MX and that European Union slots in some leagues in Europe make it more difficult.

"It's difficult for the Mexican player to be able to show himself when there are so many foreigners," said Ochoa. "When there is nowhere to go, finding a market in which he doesn't take up a foreigner spot [is hard] ... The second divisions in other countries could be like the first division in Mexico."


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