Mexico has qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and will be in Pot #2 for the draw in December. I thought it might be a good idea to see where the 23 players who went to the 2014 World Cup have been doing since.
Guillermo Ochoa: I’m not sure any player has had a more disappointing club career since 2014. A botched move to Malaga saw him ride the bench and not see playing time in La Liga until March 2016. Currently playing for Standard Liege in the Belgium First Division and is their undisputed number 1. I wouldn’t go as far as saying he is Mexico’s undisputed number 1 but he has seemed to won over JCO. World Cup 2018: Him and his beautiful hair will be starting for Mexico in Russia.
Alfredo Talavera: Arguably the best domestic keeper in Mexico’s goalkeeper pool over the last 5 years. He is a big reason why Toluca have been a solid LigaMX club for some time now. A bad knee injury this Summer has put in question his spot on this roster. If he can come back before May and show JCO he can still perform, he should be on the roster. World Cup 2018: Yes unless his injury proves too much then Corona slides into #2 and Cota/Gonzalez/Orozco battle for the last spot.
Jesus Corona: The goalkeeper version of Peralta. His consistent play in LigaMX keeps getting him called up to the national team. Corona will be 37 by the World Cup but he is not slowing down any time soon. World Cup 2018: Unless JCO decides to being a young keeper as his #3, expect Corona to be there.
Maza Rodriguez: After Brazil, he had 50 LigaMX starts for Cruz Azul in the 2 preceding seasons. Only 3 starts last season for Cruz Azul but has been a stalwart for Lobos this season. Maza has not been called into the national team since the 2015 Gold Cup. World Cup 2018 Roster: No
Carlos Salcido: Returned to Chivas after the World Cup to help his former club avoid relegation. Safe to say he accomplished his goal as he was a key player last season for the title winning squad. As for his international career, here is what I wrote when he retired from El Tri. World Cup 2018 Roster: No
Rafa Marquez: Made a surprise return to Europe after the World Cup, spending about a season and a half in Serie A. He has since returned to Atlas and has been consistently called up by JCO but his future on the national team is cloudy due to the drug trafficking allegations. World Cup 2018: Has a chance if the allegations die down.
Diego Reyes: 2 successful loan stints in La Liga since the World Cup but he is back on the bench for Porto. With his contract at Porto ending next Summer, expect Diego to return to Spain. Reyes has been a mainstay on the El Tri but he needs to play centerback to be effective. World Cup 2018: Good chance he starts at centerback.
Miguel Layun: A surprise move to England in January 2015 eventually led to Porto signing him that Summer from Watford. Layun had a breakout 2015-2016 season but has seen his playing team decrease for Porto since. World Cup 2018: Automatic starter since he’s the only reliable fullback JCO has had since Aguilar tore his ACL.
Hector Moreno: Spent the last 2 seasons playing his best football at PSV with Guardado but has moved to AS Roma this Summer. His playing time has disappeared but its still early and he could rebound before next Summer. World Cup 2018: Automatic starter, if he gets hurt, Mexico’s backline will be in shambles in Russia.
Miguel Angel Ponce: He has not seen the field for El Tri since November 2014 and I don’t expect that to change in 2018. He has seen his role with Chivas diminish every season since Brazil and they shipped him on loan to Necaxa before this season. World Cup 2018: Nope
Paul Aguilar: He is a key player for Club America and is (was?) a national team mainstay. A knee injury in late 2016 really exposed just how little depth Mexico has at right back. He is healthy now and needs to show JCO he can stay on the field to make the roster for Russia. World Cup 2018: He will make the roster if he is healthy
Andres Guardado: The 2014 World Cup served as a rebirth for El Principito. He was hardly guaranteed a spot before Chapo broke his leg in a friendly before the World Cup but he took it and ran with it. Guardado went to PSV after Brazil and was one of their best players in the 3 seasons he was there. He just moved to Real Betis and his high level of play has continued. World Cup 2018: will start and wear the captain’s armband
Hector Herrera: The definition of an “up & down” club career since the 2014 World Cup. HH has gone from captain and automatic starter to fringe player with few minutes back to an important part of Porto’s midfield. He still wears the captain’s armband when he starts and has been in good form the last month or so for Porto. World Cup 2018: a probable starter and most definitely on the roster
Marco Fabian: Finally achieved his goal of playing in Europe when he moved to Eintracht Frankfurt in January 2016. Marquito has become an important player for Frankfurt but a bad back injury has kept him off the field this season. They hope to play him before the Bundesliga winter break but back injuries are tricky. Needs a strong finish to his season to show JCO he is worth bringing to Russia. World Cup 2018: If he can replicate last season’s form after his injury, yes
Isaac Brizuela: Another player who has made a move to Chivas since the 2014 World Cup. Conejito did not see any action in Brazil and has only played 75 minutes with the national team since. World Cup 2018: Nope
Javier Aquino: Returned to Mexico in 2015 after an uneven 2.5 years in Spain. His time with Tigres has been filled with hardware and a lot of playing time with one of the best clubs in CONCACAF. Can be effective on the wings for Mexico and Aquino has been called up many times by JCO. World Cup 2018: I am leaning towards yes
Gullit Pena: Has not been the same Gullit since 2013. He has shown flashes at Chivas but was loaned back to Leon last season as Chivas decided what to do with him. A lifeline from Rangers might be what he needed. Gullit has started to be a consistent starter for the Scottish giants and even had a brace in his last game. World Cup 2018: unlikely to make the final 23.
Gallito Vazquez: His consistent play with Leon landed him a big money move to Chivas where he became a key part of their championship squad last season. JCO does not seem to rate Gallito very much and the emergence of other midfielders has pushed Vazquez down in the depth chart. World Cup 2018: Will be watching from home
Raul Jimenez: A surprise transfer to Atletico Madrid started Raul’s European career. Unfortunately, it did not work out for him there but a move to Benfica has (kinda). Currently in his 3rd year with the Portuguese giants, he is still coming off the bench. He has done well when given more playing time but his spot with the national team is pretty secured. World Cup 2018: He will be there with an outside chance of starting.
Giovani Dos Santos: After it being rumored for a bit, Gio finally followed through on his polarizing move to MLS in 2015. He is coming off a rough season with the Galaxy and will not see a competitive club game until March 2018. Maybe a loan to Mexico will keep him sharp but his spot on the 2018 squad is clearly in question. World Cup 2018: I don’t think he makes the final 23 and when that’s announced, I fully expect his dad to say something stupid.
Alan Pulido: Might have the most interesting story of anyone on this roster post-Brazil. He left Tigres after the World Cup, saying his contract extension was not legal. As he was fighting Tigres in court, he played a couple seasons in the Greek League and even played a Champions League with Olympiakos. A complicated transfer back to Mexico with Chivas has put him in the national team picture. Unfortunately, I don’t see him breaking through to make the final 23. World Cup 2018: Might come down to him vs Peralta for last forward spot
Javier Hernandez: A so-so loan with Real Madrid followed after the 2014 World Cup and they did not pull the trigger on their buy option. Eventually, Bayer Leverkusen came in for him right before the 2015 Summer transfer window closed. He is now on West Ham after scoring 39 goals in 2 seasons in Germany. World Cup 2018: Only a major injury will keep him off the 2018 roster
Oribe Peralta: Signed with Club America after Brazil and has not stopped scoring goals for them since (over 50 league goals since). He will be 34 by next Summer but can easily be the last forward on the squad. JCO likes what he can bring off the bench and will lean on bringing him to Russia. World Cup 2018: Might come down to him vs Pulido for last forward spot.
Anything surprise you? Thoughts on my predictions?