MEXICO CITY – José de la Torre is putting the final touches on the team he hopes will not only win a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics but also spearhead a quest for a sixth straight World Cup berth.
The Mexican coach selected his 23-man squad that will face Wales on May 27 in New York City in a friendly that should help prepare El Tri for a run at a gold medal in less than three months. Mexico already is without strikers Carlos Vela (declined an invitation) and Javier Hernández (not released from Manchester United) as it tries to claim its first medal at the tournament.
Olympic teams are comprised of players 23 years of age and under, but each nation gets three exemptions to use squad members of any experience level. The defending Gold Cup champions are currently ranked 20th in the latest FIFA rankings and will face Bosnia-Herzegovina in Chicago on May 31, Brazil in Arlington, Texas, on June 3, Guyana in Mexico City on June 8 and El Salvador in San Salvador on June 12.
De la Torre’s selections for the Wales match include goalies Guillermo Ochoa (AC Ajaccio), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca) and J.J. Corona (Cruz Azul).
The defenders are Israel Jiménez (UANL), Severo Meza (Monterrey), Rafael Márquez (New York Red Bulls), Francisco Javier Rodríguez (Stuttgart), Héctor Moreno (Espanyol), Hugo Ayala (UANL), Carlos Salcido (UANL) and Jorge Torres Nilo (UANL).
The midfielders are Jesús Zavala (Monterrey), Luis Ernesto Pérez (Monterrey), Jesús Molina (América), Gerardo Lugo (Morelia), Andrés Guardado (Dep. La Coruna), Pablo Barrera (West Ham United), Ángel Reyna (Monterrey) and Édgar Andrade (Chiapas).
The strikers will be Giovani dos Santos (Tottenham), Oribe Peralta (Santos Laguna) and Aldo de Nigris (Monterrey).
Javier Hernández received permission to appear in the friendly against Wales.
Robinho to return to Brazil’s Santos?
Santos won’t waver from its dream: bringing Robinho home.
The Brazilian and AC Milan star striker is a hot target for teams looking to find an elite, proven goal scorer, and his original team in South America isn’t giving up hope it can bring the 28-year-old home. Robinho has 20 goals in 62 career games with AC Milan and 26 in 90 caps for Brazil.
“The fact that he wants to return can help, yes, but this time around, trading would not be like in 2010, with Manchester City,” Santos Vice President Odilio Rodrigues told reporters. “It would be something totally different, with another financial agreement. At that time, he came on loan. Now, it seems that Milan will only agree to sell him because they are keen to invest in top players.”
The biggest snag in negotiating the transfer is with the AC Milan front office. The Italian power remains adamant the striker will only be available to leave on a permanent loan, while Santos is hoping to secure a more short-term arrangement to bring Robinho back across the Atlantic Ocean.
Arévalo Ríos ready to guide Uruguay
Egidio Arévalo Ríos is ready to lead Uruguay into World Cup qualifying.
The defensive midfielder helped guide his club team Tijuana to a seventh-place finish in the Mexican top flight and is looking to play himself into shape for a pair of crucial World Cup qualifiers in the coming weeks. The defending Copa América champions will be heavily favored to win both matches and continue their march to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“I am happy to be in the country, and I want to do my best in those matches,” Arévalo Ríos told reporters. “I’m not completely fit, mostly because of artificial turfs used in the Mexican league, but I believe I’ll be ready soon, and I’m really looking forward to hearing what [manager Óscar Tabárez] has to say.”
Arévalo Ríos has appeared in 31 career matches for La Celeste but hasn’t suited up for the power lately, as he has battled a spate of injuries. Still, he is hoping the next few weeks can help him regain his elite form and provide the defensive stability to support one of the top attacking teams in the world.
“I had to see the matches on television, and I couldn’t help my country. Now I can, and that’s the most important thing for me,” Arévalo Ríos told reporters.
Arévalo Ríos, 29, will get his shot to prove himself in qualifiers against Venezuela on June 2 and Peru on June 10, with both matches slated to be played in Montevideo.
“These are two crucial matches. We’ll be playing at home, so we want to grab six points,” he said. “But we know it’s going to be very tough, and we can’t be nervous. I really think we can win both matches, to earn precious points.”