"Memo [Guillermo Ochoa] is a better shot-stopper, but Chuy [Jesus Corona] is better with his feet," stated Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera earlier on Sunday. Once again confirming the difficult decision he has for choosing Mexico's top goalkeeper.
It's a nice problem for Mexico to have, but still one with much at stake going into the World Cup. With an Achilles' heel in central defense, El Tri will need to heavily rely on their goalkeeper in order to keep their World Cup hopes alive this month.
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The battle has even surpassed the field, infiltrating Twitter with #QueremosAOchoaTitular and #EnMexicoYenElMundoElPorteroEsCorona hashtags that have dominated my Twitter feed during the past few days. So, who is the better player?
While my colleague, Andrea Canales, focuses on Ochoa, I'll set my sights on Corona.
Since 2005, Corona has gradually become one of Mexico's best goalkeepers. The Cruz Azul player has had sporadic time with the national team but solidified himself as one of El Tri's best players the past couple of years. At the Summer Olympics in 2012, Corona captained the Mexico squad that eventually won gold in the tournament. From the Olympic roster, 10 are now heading to Brazil, which is key to remember and reiterate.
Corona captained a Mexico roster with Carlos Salcido, Hector Herrera, Marco Fabian, Oribe Peralta, Giovani dos Santos, Javier Aquino, Raul Jimenez, Diego Reyes and Miguel Ponce, all current players for Mexico at the World Cup. He was then able to lead this squad to the gold medal with a win over an impressive Brazilian team. This past trust that was built in 2012 may prove to be crucial for a Mexican team that is still building rapport.
Corona was also one of the few decent players from Mexico's forgettable 2013. Were it not for some great saves last year (see Mexico 0-0 Jamaica, Panama 0-0 Mexico, Jamaica 0-1 Mexico), Mexico may have had to watch the World Cup from home. The 33-year-old continues to be a strong presence in goal, and to me, he has yet to make enough mistakes to justify a drop from his position as Mexico's starting goalkeeper. It would be unfair to bring in Ochoa after Corona had taken a beating in net last year and helped keep Mexico afloat.
With his quick reflexes and excellent coverage with his feet, a spot in goal for Corona shouldn't be controversial. Ochoa is admittedly the slightly better option, but with limited time to prepare for the World Cup, Corona will be able to give a confident presence in the back and a familiar style for many players on the field.
I've mentioned this before, but honestly, Mexico can't go wrong in goal. Ochoa is a world-class goalkeeper as well. That being said, Herrera will receive plenty of criticism no matter which option he decides to utilize.
Herrera is apparently making his decision Sunday night for his best option in goal for El Tri. Will he announce it to the press immediately afterward or keep everybody waiting until Thursday? Only time will tell.