With just over two weeks to go until Mexico opens the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying against the United States in Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 11, we asked our writers Tom Marshall, Nayib Moran and Cesar Hernandez which Liga MX players may be getting overlooked by manager Juan Carlos Osorio.
Cesar Montes, DF, Monterrey
Monterrey center-back Cesar Montes may only be 19 years old and still filling into his 1.91 meter frame, but he has shown remarkable consistency since breaking into Los Rayados' first team in late 2015.
The combination of Montes' developing physicality, ability to play with the ball at his feet and distribution out from the back, as well as his temperament, mean he is right at the front of the line when it comes to Mexico's best young talents. And with the right-side center-back spot with El Tri currently lacking a permanent owner, he has to be in the national team conversation. -- Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup)
Edwin "Aris" Hernandez, DF, Chivas
Then, there is Chivas left-back Edwin "Aris" Hernandez. Osorio has struggled for options behind Jorge Torres Nilo in the position and has even resorted to playing right-footed Miguel Layun there -- something the Colombian coach has stated he'd prefer not to do. Adrian Aldrete, Efrain Velarde and others have not been entirely convincing, while Hernandez possesses a good cross on him, has over 200 professional starts and has been on top form for Chivas throughout 2016. (Marshall)
Jorge "Burrito" Hernandez, MF, Pachuca
"We need a more vocal leader like Gennaro Gattuso. He doesn't have to be the most technical but he has to somehow lead the pack. We need a leader who can impose his leadership through actions, to be more vocal, to intimidate the opponent," said manager Juan Carlos Osorio to TV Azteca months after Mexico's Copa America Centenario quarterfinal exit.
It's surprising that after Osorio made this declaration public, he hasn't yet called up Pachuca's defensive midfielder, Jorge "Burrito" Hernandez. The Pachuca midfielder reunites various of the characteristics Osorio listed and also it's worth keeping in mind that Hernandez is the undisputed defensive midfielder of Liga MX's current champion.
In the league game versus Tijuana that finished 2-2, he intimidated one of the best Apertura signings, Guido Rodriguez, and recently against Chivas, his movements in the defensive end helped Pachuca walk out with a vital 1-2 away win. If there's a version of Gattuso in Mexico, his name is "Burrito." -- Nayib Moran (@nayibmoran)
Jose Daniel "Chepe" Guerrero, MF, Club America
Like Hernandez, "Chepe" is another defensive midfielder who could win Osorio's call-up. Guerrero has been a constant starter for Club America in 2016; he's had 23 starts in the Clausura and Apertura.
Who knows, though, how long Ricardo Antonio La Volpe will stay as head coach at America, especially considering Wednesday's Copa MX loss to Chivas, but if Guerrero is able to understand what La Volpe wants from him, he could certainly improve his qualities as a defensive midfielder.
Mexico needs more midfielders who are distributors of the ball; Guerrero is one of them, however, there are a couple U-23 players such as Rodolfo Pizarro, Michael Perez and Erick Gutierrez who are making immense strides. (Moran)
Luis "Chapo" Montes, MF, Leon
A player who has gained, or perhaps regained some recognition in recent times is Leon's Luis Montes. Montes is one of the main reasons why his club has been able to generate results in this Apertura season. After finding the back of the net twice for Los Panzas Verdes in their last three games, the 30-year-old veteran started to look like his old self. Through his immense amount of energy and explosiveness on the pitch, Montes has the traits needed to be a threatening attacking midfielder for El Tri. -- Cesar Hernandez (@cesarhfutbol)
Jesus Isijara, MF, Necaxa
Jesus Isijara has recently been stealing the Liga MX spotlight with Necaxa. With two goals and three assists in his last seven starts, the 27-year-old midfielder has had no trouble making a name for himself. He has helped Necaxa move up to sixth place in the league standings and is an interesting option to consider as a winger or right midfielder.
Given a strong end to the regular season and a decent showing in the playoffs, Osorio might have to consider the player, who has previous spent years in the second division. Although it's a stretch to consider either Isijara or Montes as starting options for the national team, they would at least be intriguing options off the bench for El Tri. (Hernandez)