World Cup Countdown: How Mexico's foreign legion fared

Mexico is poised to field more foreign-based players in Russia than ever before at a World Cup. Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio’s preliminary 28-man World Cup squad, which must be pared down to 23, is comprised of 12 European-based players, an MLS trio, and 13 Liga MX players. Mexico’s 2014 World Cup squad featured eight foreign-based players.

Javier Hernandez (Photo by Conall Gaffney)

Osorio, however, is concerned that several of his foreign-based corps haven’t gotten enough action during the 2017-18 season.

“A true and negative reality is the limited participation our players had in Europe,” Osorio said upon announcing his squad.

Mexico’s top scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored eight goals in 28 EPL appearances for 13th place West Ham, but he started only five games after a hamstring injury he sustained in November while traveling with the Mexico squad.

Defender Diego Reyes, midfielders Hector Herrera and winger Jesus Corona celebrated the 2017-18 Portuguese title with Porto. Herrera captained and played 29 games while Corona appeared in 27. But Reyes, who is currently recovering from a thigh injury, made only 12 league appearances. Benfica striker Raul Jimenez had six goals and seven assists in 33 games for runner-up Benfica.

After an eight-month absence following back surgery, midfielder Marco Fabian returned to Eintracht Frankfurt’s ranks in February and made seven Bundesliga appearances. But he seems to have made a full recovery and scored a brilliant free kick against Iceland in a World Cup tune-up match in Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara, California, in March.

Moreno’s Frankfurt teammate, defender Carlos Salcedo, made 20 Bundesliga appearances.

In a successful debut season for Real Betis, midfielder Andres Guardado helped it secure a Europa League spot while playing in 29 La Liga games. But Osorio said Guardado, who has struggled with a leg muscle injury, is due for surgery and could miss up to 12 days of training.

Defender Hector Moreno and made eight appearances for Real Sociedad (after playing five Italian Serie A games for Roma before his winter transfer). Defender Miguel Layun played 15 games for Sevilla.

Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa started 29 games for Standard Liege, which finished sixth in the Jupiler League.

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano
scored 17 goals and assisted on 11 while helping PSV win the Eredivise title. With pace and great ball control, the classic inverted winger’s dangerous right foot will look to complement LAFC’s Carlos Vela’s left on the opposite side of the field.

With the brothers Jonathan and Giovani Dos Santos currently injured, Carlos Vela is the only in-shape player from MLS. And he’s in good form, too, with six goals and five assists in 10 games for Los Angeles FC in his MLS debut season.

Mexico Roster:
GOALKEEPERS: Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege/BEL), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul).
DEFENDERS: Carlos Salcedo (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Nestor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Diego Reyes (Porto/POR), Hector Moreno (Real Sociedad/ESP), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Oswaldo Alanis (Guadalajara), Edson Alvarez (Club America), Jesus Gallardo (UNAM), Miguel Layun (Sevilla/ESP).
MIDFIELDERS: Jesus Molina (Monterrey), Rafa Marquez (Atlas), Hector Herrera (Porto/POR), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Andres Guardado (Real Betis/ESP), Erick Gutierrez (Pachuca), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy).
FORWARDS: Javier Hernandez (West Ham United/ENG), Raul Jimenez (Benfica/POR), Oribe Peralta (Club America), Jesus Corona (Porto/POR), Carlos Vela (LAFC), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Hirving Lozano (PSV/NED), Jurgen Damm (Tigres).

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