Top Stories

Vela not included in Mexico squad, Ochoa returns

CarlosVelaRealSociedad2-Lyon (Getty)


The Mexico National Team may have a new manager in Victor Manuel Vucetich, but they still haven’t successfully been able to recruit Real Sociedad forward Carlos Vela back into the team.

The high-scoring Mexican was left off the list of five players currently based in Europe that Vucetich has called into the next El Tri squad for their final two Hexagonal World Cup qualifiers. Also not included in the list is FC Porto defender Diego Reyes who has been a mainstay in the side for the last year, his club teammate Hector Herrera, and Valencia winger Andres Guardado.

Despite Vela’s absence, goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa has earned a recall into the Mexico squad and will travel to Mexico City along with fellow European-based players Javier Chicharito Hernandez, Giovanni Dos Santos, Javier Aquino, and Hector Moreno.

Earlier this week there were reports at a Mexico training camp run by Vucetich that both Vela and Ochoa would return to the side, after declining calls from former manager Jose Manuel de la Torre, who’s reign as El Tri boss ended in the early morning hours after a 2-1 defeat at home to Honduras.

Vela, the former Arsenal player who has captivated La Liga since joining Sociedad in 2011, hasn’t featured for Mexico since March 29, 2011, which was when “Chepo” de la Torre was the manager of the team. However, it was thought that under a new manager like Vucetich, the former U-17 World Champion would return to help save his country from potentially missing out on the World Cup.

Heading into their final two World Cup qualifiers, Mexico sits in fifth place on goal difference, with only eight points from eight matches. They face fourth-placed Panama on October 11, with a win potentially placing them as high as third, though a draw or defeat would nearly ensure them that their best finish would be fourth place, which forces the team to play New Zealand in a home-and-home playoff round to decide which nation advances to next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

What do you think of these developments? Surprised that Vela still won’t play for Mexico? Do you see Mexico’s task at hand now even tougher? Do you see Chicharito and Ochoa starting against Panama?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Does anybody know if there will be anyone suspended due to yellow card accumulation for the Mexico-Panama game. I’ve looked on the Concacaf web site, but couldn’t find anything.

  2. Maybe this is a bit off topic, but could affect the Mexico/Costa Rica game… Any news on the FIFA investigations into Cost Rica? Are they going to have to play to an empty stadium v. Honduras or beyond? Anything about Joel Campbell investigation into the dive? I would think that news would come out soon with the final hex matches in two weeks.

  3. Seriously SBI, you have GOT to proof read this stuff before hitting “post”.
    I don’t even understand the last sentence of the second paragraph. It stops so suddenly I got whiplash. I have to assume you left out something you meant to include. “Also not included in the list is FC Porto defender Diego Reyes who has been a mainstay in the side for the last year, his club teammate Hector Herrera, and Valencia winger Andres Guardado.” What!?!? His club teammates _____.
    You have an awesome website, but the content gets lost in the crappy delivery sometimes.

    • While I agree the website needs better proofreading at times, that sentence makes perfect sense.

      “Also not included in the list is FC Porto defender Diego Reyes who has been a mainstay in the side for the last year, his club teammate Hector Herrera, and Valencia winger Andres Guardado.”

      Take out the “who has been a mainstay in the side for the last year” which is referring to Reyes and maybe it reads easier for you:

      “Also not included in the list is FC Porto defender Diego Reyes, his club teammate Hector Herrera, and Valencia winger Andres Guardado.”

      It means Reyes, Herrera and Guardado weren’t called up. The “his club teammate” is meant to convey the information that Herrera also plays for Porto.

      Get it now?

      • Fridays are hard sometimes…and humbling. A public apology to Dan for my poor reading comprehension at the end of the day. Oy vey.

      • That sentence is missing a comma, though. “who has been a mainstay in the side for the last year” is an appositive clause that needs to be set off by commas. Plus, as Marlon said, it should be “Also not included in the list ARE” and not “is”.

        Dan’s main problem seems to be apostrophes. He consistently uses them when he shouldn’t and leaves them out when he should.

        Ex from this article: “Jose Manuel de la Torre, who’s reign” … should be “whose”.

  4. supposed injury or fitness issue? he’s in question for sociedad’s game this weekend according to their coach. given the call up is for October games, seems fishy.

  5. SO weird that either they don´t call up Vela, or they do and he declines.

    He could really help up top.

    I don´t get it. Must be something personal between him and the Mexican Federation.

  6. Somewhat off-topic, but has anyone noticed Memo Ochoa’s picture in FIFA 13? He looks like a bloated Colombian cartel ringleader in a bad 90s movie.

    Will be more exciting following Mexico next week than the US. Mexico missing a WC could be huge for the USMNT being the only ticket in town as it were for WC2014 (in North America). A chance to sway more of the Mexican-American fanbase towards the stars & stripes.

      • I don’t think the problem is Anglo-America hating soccer towards the stars and stripes – I think we/they like the World Cup every 4 years, and Olympics etc. I know my office (full of Notre Dame college football fanantics) watched the 2010 WC games during the day – interrupting partner meetings when LD scored his late goals.

        The problem is getting them to pay attention to the MLS during the regular season.

      • Anglo-American?

        Seems like a better idea to me promoting the sport in general and not trying to sub-divide Americans into these strange, poorly labeled categories.

        Affordable opportunities to play a great sport, good coaching, a well run pro league and a successful National team with lots of quality coverage will appeal and attract all Americans… Navajo, Sino, Mexi, Anglo-Saxon, Franco, Ruso, Creole, Eskimo, ………………. Uygher-Americans… you get the idea.

  7. Honestly, with the way Mexico have been playing, I hope they don’t make it to the World Cup because they simply do not deserve it. In 4 home games they’ve played in the final round of qualifying, they’ve earned a grand total of 3 points, including one loss to Honduras. The US on the other hand, have 12 points in 4 games and have not conceded a goal at home in the final round. If you cannot get results at home, you dont deserve to be in the World Cup.

    • Mexico needs to finish 4th and win the play off against New Zealand so 4 CONCACAF teams are in Brazil. I am tired of hearing how poor CONCACAF is compared to Asia and Africa. That is simply not true, in my opinion. The top2 teams of Asia are no better than the top 2 in CONCACAF. I would also say that the top 2 in Africa (whoever they may be every 2 or 4 years) are no better than the US or Mex.

      • You could have also said South Korea who finished 3rd or 4th in 02.

        I still believe in my general point that neither Asia nor Africa are “better” than CONCACAF.

      • African teams are… not that good. Watch the African Cup of Nations some time. Its pretty ugly. Also this mexico burned the Ivory Coast recently 4-1. Ya it was a Friendly but uh…Still 4 – 1….

        BTW I’m not comparing them to the US. But as a whole not that great. At the same time, Ghana gets it together when it matters somehow.

      • and FIFA agrees with you given CONCACAF has a higher weight than the AFC or CAF (0.88 v. 0.86). well, their equation agrees.

      • Wasn’t trying to be a smart ass. Just… the first thing that popped into my head when you said “Top 2 African teams are no better than US and Mexico” was…. Ghana. While I’d like to think there is truth / that it may be so, those results in meaningful competition make it awfully hard to justify that claim. Essentially there is little difference between Asia/Africa/CONCACAF. They’re 3 second tier regions that have a few teams that have flashes of quality, great potential, but lack the long term consistent results of the upper teams in CONMEBOL or UEFA. I think CONCACAF is on the upswing and will continue to improve as MLS does, but we need more than a few years of promise to earn any kind of bragging rights.

  8. Dropping Guardado is a genius move. It’s the shot across the bow for the entire player pool. If the players perform and win out, Vucetich can say he made the tough calls and righted the ship. If Mexico fails to qualify, well, look at their form, chief among them Guardado. Who can blame the coach?

    High reward, no risk. Perfect.

  9. We have all played soccer right? Often times, it’s the really talented players with egos that bring a team down with their attitude, and teams are better off not including them even after considering the quality that they bring on the field. After the interview I saw with Gaurdado, it wouldn’t surprise me is this was the case.

    • I wonder if the biggest problem for Mexico is the fitness and conditioning of the players. Through 8 games of the hex they’ve scored just 4 goals all coming in the first 60 minutes. While they have allowed 6 all coming in the second half.

  10. You put your country ahead of your personal feelings, whether you’re the coach or player. National team games are about your country NOT you.

  11. I would love for Panama to win this match on their own merit. This is a program that has been knocking on the door loudly, and I think it would be great for them to have a real change at advancing and I think it would be a good supporting statement that other CONCACAF teams aren’t all simply minnows that USA and MEX ease past. Getting a result in Mexico would really go a long way to making that as much about Panama winning as Mexico in a tailspin.

      • “Future” meaning while this generation of players is around. Small countries sometimes get lucky and have a good set of players, but it is hard to sustain. Think of Denmark in the 80’s or Hungary in the 50’s.

        Every rule has an exception, and Uruguay is the one here.

  12. So do we have any kind of clarification as to whether Vela declined, or just wasn’t called in the first place? Those are two very different situations and I’d have two very different reactions.

    I try to stay away from hyperbole, but if Vela was called and declined, he should never wear a Mexico shirt ever again. This is the single most dire stretch the Mexican team has faced in a long, long time and Vela is exactly what they need right now. If he’s not willing to step in now, he doesn’t deserve to wear the shirt, period.

    On the other hand, if Vucetich just didn’t call him in, I’m not really sure what he’s thinking. Say what you want about team chemistry, but the bottom line is that Mexico needs to score goals and Vela is the best man to do it.

    This’ll be an interesting couple weeks for the FMF….

  13. I always thought Aquino, Reyes, and Dos Santos were more than a handful for Concacaf, but the last time I saw them together was against the US at Mexico City. Mexico simply is not putting there best talent on the field at the same time and it shows in the results.

    • Mexico played there best when they attacked right up the middle with short quick passes and used only the wings as support attacks…not this side to side passing and crossing predictable attack we see now.

      • the US has looked to force them wide for years and years now, looking to own the air on service to the box and to physically handle the area. I’ve seen others play them that way too. They just don’t seem very physical to me in the attacking area…maybe that’s just my eyes playing with me but they look kind of soft in there. But with DosSantos and Barrera they have 2 players that attack well up the wings. Those two combined well vs. Brazil, for example, and took it to Marcelo. Also can remember how they brutalized our left flank at the Gold Cup in Bradley’s last game as coach

      • “..Also can remember how they brutalized our left flank at the Gold Cup in Bradley’s last game as coach..”

        coach Bradley’s decision to keep playing Bornstein at LB made the mexicans wingers look like superstar brazilians.

      • I will say that Brazilian wingers are not really that great at actually defending.

        I don’t watch Real much but when I do Marcelo is having issues. Mind you this is in the Champions league sooo… It takes the best of players to do it. He and Daniel Alves are very similar to me.

      • I understand your perspective on Brazilian backs but they don’t suck, more like their attacking prowess overshadows their defense imo, and their attack is part of their defensive idea

        the Mexicans literally hammered up their right flank once Barrera came in and paired with dos Santos over there, but if you mark Hernandez closely, who does that leave in the area to target? That is their problem I think

      • Regarding Mexico, they just can’t beat tall CBs with high crosses. Mexico is just too small. You don’t have to be big to win but it helps to not be super tiny.

        Dos Santos 1.73m
        Hernandez 1.75m 5ft 9
        Marco Fabián 1.70m 5 ft 7
        Barrera 1.72 m 5 ft 8 in
        Vela 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
        Nigris 1.84 m (6 ft 1⁄2)

        I wouldn’t consider Clint Dempsy big… but he is 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
        Vela is “tall” and Nigris is the only guy who is above the US average height.

        Weird all those guys are above mexican average height.(1.720 m (5 ft 7 1⁄2 in)

      • I don’t think that it would be weird to find that the top athletes of a nation are taller than the average. I am pretty certain that over the entire population of just about any nation, height is negatively correlated with circumstances that stunt growth (poverty, malnutrition, hunger, diseases that do not receive adequate medical attention, etc.) My understanding is that Scandinavian nations now have the tallest average height in the world. They certainly seem to have done a good job nurturing Johannsson.

  14. Does anyone else kind of want to watch the Mexico Panama match over watching the US? I know I’ll end up watching the US but with how much is on the line for Mexico its pretty tempting.

      • I like the way you think. I will pull for Panama…they deserve it, great lineup with limited skill, fine example of working together. I saw an interview in which Vucetich said he would call up those intersted. Vela was likely called up but he declined. Vucetich also commented that sponsorship deals would no longer play or considered in his decisions.
        EL TRI is in a fine mess…a lot of countries go through that, Argentina went through it in 02.
        However, Panama, Honduras as going to the next wwc will say a lot about the region.
        Let’s hope the US does not go through the same situation.

      • They are a much better team tactically under Dely Valdez. Panama actually fielded a stronger side in the Gold Cup than they did when we beat them in Seattle. If this is the biggest game in Mexican futbol history (I disagree and think it was the 1986 West Germany Mexico quarterfinal that the Germans won on PKs), it is unquestionably the biggest game in Panamanian futbol history. A win for Panama does not guarantee anything but it gives them a greater degree of control of their destiny. It would also make the Mexicans need Honduras to lose twice and hope that they beat Costa Rica and the US defeat Panama to even make the playoff.

  15. Wow Mexico is seriously backwards right now.

    There must be some serious disconnect/disputes between some of the European players and the entire organization in Mexico.

    To all the US fans that panic when one or two promising European based players dont get call ups. It could be A LOT worse!!! I always looked at Canada as a example but now Mexico!

  16. perhaps the FMF has tons of skeletons not yet surfaced… no player with any credibility wants to be associated due to what may come about… *Cough* PEDs *Cough*

  17. What is the reaction in Mexico to this? Are they going crazy?

    I can only imagine if this was the US in 5th place, with Michael Bradley not having been called up since 2011, and Klinsi decided to also not call up Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson for the 2 last qualifiers. People would be going bonkers and calling for heads from Sunil on down.

  18. At what point do you simply stop calling in Vela? Most of the better national teams get sick of their players always declining call ups – heck, even Klinsi did with Timmy Chandler. Some of my Mexican friends are under the opinion that once a player declines for a non-injury reasons, he shouldn’t be picked again.

    • If you’re a manager and you want to win, the answer is never. It’s like Chandler: sure it sucks to chase him, but does an inform Chandler improve our squad? Yes.

      • not talking about the coach or the player being chased…talking about everyone else in the locker room, or excluded from it potentially

      • Yep, that is the point and something that some fans do not seem to grasp. In the case of Timothy Chandler, he has played only two games for the USMNT since November 2011, in other words, two games in the past one year and ten months. While a lot of guys have spent the last 18 months sweating blood to in numerous WCQ games to ensure we make it to Brazil next summer, Chandler has been spending his summers relaxing on the beach in Greece and/or sitting in his easy chair at home watching the USMNT tough it out in Concacaf games. I would be very surprised if a lot of the guys on the team do not consider Timothy a lazy prima donna who wants all the glory of playing in a World Cup but thinks he is so special that he does not have to play in gritty Concacaf games in Central America in order to qualify.

        Let’s not forget the one game he played in Central America against Honduras, he was the worst player on the field and it seemed obvious to me that chemistry was lacking between Timothy and other players, especially Omar Gonzalez.

        All that said, Geoff Cameron, quite frankly, is now a better right back than Chandler and if Klinsmann bypasses Cameron while at the same time ignoring Lichaj in order to bring back his good ol’ buddy Timothy will be a sorry state of affairs and I could imagine quite a few USMNT players will be peeved.

      • A little bit of hyperbole? Donovan missed a good portion of the last two years and everyone welcomed him back. Normally, players want to win. If one player gives the other players a better chance to win, the players generally will welcome the player back.

        Whether Cameron is a better RB than Chandler is subjective and is certainly not the consensus. Personally, I think they both should start in a back line of FJ-Besler-Cameron-Chandler

      • They both chose not to play for the US on multiple occasions. You don’t think it is fair to compare the two?

        I don’t think Chandler’s situation is that bad. A lot of his absences seemed due to his club team. He is young and still trying to make a career. I can understand putting the “hand that feeds you” first.

      • i think Vela coming in could, but i really doubt Chandler would divide the locker room. two entirely different situations, IMO. but there is a balance to that question and it’s hard to answer.

    • Let’s be real, Reyna and others used to skip USA games back in the day. I think an established player of quality might be given a pass. Landon, for example. I’m not sure we needed the whole charade of re-establishing his bona fides, loyalty, etc. But if you have not been in camp in a while or are un-established, even a quality player runs the risk of being told to jump in a lake. The coach needs a gelled team and the players likely don’t want people parachuting in after qualification to reap the spoils of what they earned.

  19. I almost wonder if some of the players have a problem with the Mexican fans and press at this point. I remember the interview with Guardado before the match in Columbus struck me kind of funny. He really seemed to have some kind of resentment towards the press in Mexico.

    • One thing about soccer players – they are some of the easiest to rattle players. Not all, but a good portion are like NBA players in that they let the press, fan sentiments and social media play a factor. We saw it with Suarez a little bit this summer, “Poor me, whaa, whaa, I’ve been villified.” Ok, admittedly not a direct quote, but I say this as a huge Liverpool fan – Get the $%(# over yourselves!” Life isn’t that tough, deal with it. The Mexican team does seem to have this sentiment in spades John, wouldn’t be surprised if being butthurt over criticism is a huge part of the disconnect. Though with Vela, I don’t know, seems super odd.

      • There seemed to be some kind of fall out with Vela after he was suspended for 6 months for going to a party or something. Perhaps he didn’t feel he was treated fairly and decided it just wasn’t worth it after that.

    • The Mexican media can be brutal – and I can see how it would get on a player’s nerves. Anyone remember Nery Castillo blowing up at the Mexican media a few years ago? Asking them if they had ever played the game and then saying that the difference between him and the media is that he was in Europe and the media was home in Mexico.

  20. i think it’s huge that vela still won’t come in, because it most likely means that he has a problem with the mexico federation in general, and not just a managerial dispute. or he just doesn’t care about the national team, i guess.

    the one player that they really didn’t *need* to bring back into the fold was ochoa. yes, he’s been playing great, but mexico’s weakness hasn’t been in goal, it’s been in attack.

    • Obviously I and the other posters here have never been in this situation, but I just cannot imagine how someone would pass up representing their country and/or playing in the World Cup. I wouldn’t care how much one hated the coach, if you love your country, how could you do that?

      • If his problems go as much to the higher officials as the coaches, he might still not like who he has to deal with at the federation.

        FWIW, Vela has been playing in Europe since 2005 and has lived abroad long enough he has a Spanish passport. At ome point with the dos Santoses and Chandler and him it becomes less clear where their loyalties lie. Club? Country? Which?

      • Maybe he doesn’t consider Mexico to be “his country”. There are many people who grow up to dislike the country where they were born.

Leave a Comment