Blanco makes first Mexico cut

[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] Mexican national team coach Javier Aguirre has named the 17 domestic players who will begin full-time training for the World Cup. As expected, former MLS star Cuauhtemoc Blanco made the cut. There were a few surprises in Aguirre's squad, though.

Oscar Perez, 37, was picked even though he hasn't been called up for any Mexico game this year. Perez, nickname "El Conejo" ("the Rabbit"), is an Aguirre favorite, though. He was Mexico's goalie at the 2002 World Cup.

Up front, Adolfo Bautista and Miguel Sabah were picked.

Of the players selected, only goalie Guillermo Ochoa, defenders Efrain Juarez and Jonny Magallon, midfielders Gerardo Torrado and Israel Castro and Blanco would be considered likely starters at the World Cup.

Guadalajara sensation Javier Hernandez, 21, may have played himself into the starting lineup with a tremendous winter campaign.

As many as 11 Aguirre picks for the World Cup are playing in Europe.

Mexico has three games left on its U.S. portion of its pre-World Cup schedule. The next game: May 7 against Ecuador at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

MEXICO SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Club America), Luis Ernesto Michel (Guadalajara), Oscar Perez (Jaguares).
Defenders: Paul Aguilar (Pachuca), Efrain Juarez (UNAM), Jonny Magallon (Guadalajara), Juan Carlos Valenzuela (Club America) , Jorge Torres Nilo (Atlas), Adrian Aldrete (Morelia).
Midfielders: Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul), Israel Castro (UNAM).
Forwards: Pablo Barrera (UNAM), Adolfo Bautista (Chivas), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Veracruz), Alberto Medina (Guadalajara), Miguel Sabah (Morelia), Javier Hernandez (Guadalajara)

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