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Sep 4, 2014

Miguel Herrera plays it too safe on latest Mexico roster

Rising star Hirving Lozano of Pachuca will have to wait for his Mexico debut.
Rising star Hirving Lozano of Pachuca will have to wait for his Mexico debut.

In early August, the constant "No Era Penal" memories from the World Cup began to thankfully leave my mind.

In its place was a foolish optimism that infiltrated my head once again; the same kind of foolish optimism that any die-hard fan of any team loves to mentally indulge in before the start of a new process or season.

It was just a month after the World Cup, but I was already thrilled for the new system and players that Mexico head coach Miguel "Piojo" Herrera could potentially utilize for the Mexican national team. I know that's being overzealous immediately after the tournament, but that's what happens when one feels impatient and eager at the same time.

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Last month, Herrera mentioned to the press that he was hoping to employ some new talent along with some core members from the World Cup for Mexico's upcoming friendlies. I, of course, immediately fantasized about some audacious moves that "El Piojo" would make: Giving Jonathan dos Santos a call-up and placing him right in the middle of the field; bringing in Arturo Gonzalez or Hirving Lozano into the attack for El Tri; maybe even giving Ulises Davila a shot as well. Yes, some of these players have been untested, but what better time than now to experiment?

Instead, Herrera went in for a more cautious approach for his roster selection. There are only two players under the age of 24 and a couple of questionable call-ups for the national team. Are Luis Venegas and Antonio Rios truly the future for Mexico?

I guess what this says is that Herrera is treading lightly. He's looking to make some changes but also recognizes the fact that firing managers has become very fashionable in Mexico --whether it be for the national team or a Liga MX team.

Even though they are just friendlies, I'm sure that he is well aware that a couple of bad results against Chile and Bolivia will bring an overwhelming amount of criticism from the media and fans. If the results are bad enough, it may even bring serious reconsiderations for his spot at head coach.

This is not to say that Herrera only called up tried-and-true veterans to the team -- there are a few new and returning players who have the potential to steal the spotlight. In defense, Hiram Mier, Hugo Ayala and Miguel Angel Herrera are all talented enough to make a case for themselves. It will also be exciting to watch the 20-year-old Rodolfo Pizarro play once again. The agile right back will likely be a substitute for Paul Aguilar, but I do hope that Herrera will give him some time to play.

Erick "Cubo" Torres is the most noteworthy young player on the roster. The striker has made a name for himself for Chivas USA in the MLS and most definitely deserves a chance to play for El Tri. His 14 goals scored so far this season must be enough to make even Chivas of Guadalajara envious as well. With all the hype that has surrounded the player recently, I can't imagine Herrera not giving him some playing time. He would be foolish not to.

In the end, I must admit that I'm a little let down with his selection. I didn't see the young players that I wanted/expected and it appears as though Herrera is certainly taking a conservative route. Yet, I understand his decision to bring in the players that he did. At this moment, Herrera must carefully walk the line between making bold moves and using the same ones who have worked with his 5-3-2 formation.

There is a vast difference between the talents of Chile and Bolivia. Considering this, Herrera will probably field more of the veterans against Chile, and then some of the new and young players against Bolivia.

It's all a step in the right direction, but I might have to be more patient before I see some more changes.

Cesar Hernandez

Cesar Hernandez can't remember a time when soccer hasn't been a part of his daily routine. Within that personal immersion of fútbol is a lifelong passion for the Mexican national team. He has blogged on El Tri for four years mainly through his blog The Big Verde. Follow him on Twitter @cesarh1030.

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