Alfredo Talavera leading race to be Mexico's No. 1 as 'Memo' Ochoa waits

MEXICO CITY -- On June 6, Mexico's Copa America Centenario campaigns gets underway against Uruguay at University of Phoenix Stadium and, barring any significant developments, it seems that coach Juan Carlos Osorio will start Alfredo Talavera in goal for El Tri.

After five games under Osorio, Mexico hasn't suffered a defeat and has yet to concede a goal. Tellingly, Talavera was the starting goalkeeper in the visits to Honduras and Canada, perhaps the most difficult matches so far in the Osorio era.

Guillermo "Memo" Ochoa only joined the squad once, back in November 2015, but didn't see minutes in any of the two qualifying games. Osorio called him up mainly to see how he was doing after spending almost a season-and-a-half without consistent playing time at Malaga.

The third goalkeeper in the Copa roster is Cruz Azul's Jose de Jesus Corona, who has started two of El Tri's games this year.

During the week, Osorio explained to ESPN MX his rationale on why he selected Talavera, Ochoa and Corona as his goalkeepers.

"We selected a goalkeeper whose best skills are shown in the aerial game, another one who's great at shot-blocking, and another one who's in the middle ground," he said. "We wanted to pick three goalkeepers with different characteristics, so we can have all the possibilities available for any given scenario."

In the same interview, Osorio expressed his thoughts about each one of them, but before giving specific descriptions he said: "There's no starting goalkeeper; all three of them have great possibilities of starting."

With "Tala," Osorio made significant points about the most consistent Mexican goalkeeper in Liga MX over the last two years. He said Talavera has "an extraordinary aerial game" -- insisting it is better than that of Corinthians' Cassio Ramos, Atletico Mineiro's Victor Leandro Bagy, Tigres UANL's Nahuel Guzman and Colo Colo's Justo Villar.

"So we have a great goalkeeper for this particular style of game against teams who are direct and are excellent on set-pieces," he added.

On the remaining goalkeepers, Osorio was brief and to the point: "Ochoa is a great stopper, and Corona is someone who we think is in the middle of both."

In recent interviews with different media outlets, El Tri's manager has openly expressed his belief that Talavera is a keeper who could be playing in the Premier League. However, at 33-years-old, there is little time left for him to do so, and it's more likely he will finish his career in Liga MX.

With Ochoa, the current scenario is totally different from that of Talavera and Corona. Ochoa, who will turn 31 in July, started in Malaga's last 10 league games and made a positive impression throughout his time under head coach Javi Gracia, who has since departed for Rubin Kazan.

On Thursday, former Sevilla and Tottenham Hotspur boss Juande Ramos was appointed new Malaga head coach. When he returns, Ochoa will be presented with an opportunity to start again and convince Ramos that he deserves the No. 1 role with Los Boquerones, unless he receives a tentative offer from another European club that promises more opportunities to start.

The Copa America could serve as a place for him to once again prove that he's one of the Americas' best goalkeepers, as was the case in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. But only if Osorio gives him the chance.

Ochoa has arrived at the Mexico camp with renewed energy because, during those 10 starts with Malaga, at times it felt as if he was Malaga's best player. One of Malaga's main newspapers, Diario Sur, titled one of its articles on April 9, "Un buen portero, medio equipo." ( "One good goalkeeper, middling team.")

While Talavera certainly seems set to start against Uruguay, Oscar Tabarez's men -- the current leader in the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup -- are dangerous opposition indeed. They are, as Osorio recently said: "direct and excellent on set pieces." This match in Phoenix could potentially be one of Talavera's biggest games, but what will happen after?

Will Osorio stick with Talavera throughout the entire group stage? Will he give his three keepers one group-stage game apiece? If the coach does make changes, who will start in the quarterfinals, where Mexico could potentially face Chile or Argentina? Considering Argentina and Chile's formidable attacks, does that mean that Osorio will go with Ochoa, his best shot-blocker?

If the results are positive, no one will question the fact that Osorio has lacked certainty over his best keeper. If there are blunders, though, criticism is sure to arise. Right now, Osorio's era has almost been perfect, but the first tests are on their way.