Time is running out for players to make an impact on Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio as the clock ticks down toward the 2018 World Cup. Thursday saw the squad announced for next week's friendly vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina in San Antonio, Texas, so we asked our writers to react to some of the names included and excluded.
In: Henry Martin
As expected, Osorio's introductory squad for 2018 was a mix of old and new. Barred from selecting any players active in Europe, the coach picked a few mainstays including Carlos Vela, Giovani dos Santos and Javier Aquino. There were also plenty of new faces, most notably Monterrey midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez.
Club America forward Henry Martin was perhaps the most surprising inclusion. A low-key signing for the Mexico City side this winter, the 25-year-old has been lights out in the early part of the season, scoring twice and locking down a starting spot. Indeed, his selection was so unexpected that the former Club Tijuana player admitted he doesn't have an active visa to visit the United States.
While calls for the likes of Xolos goalkeeper Gibran Lajud and Pachuca midfielder Victor Guzman were overdue, Martin's return to the team -- he was selected once in 2015 -- was unexpected. Should he impress next week, he will be considered among a thinning group of El Tri forwards for a place in the World Cup squad.
-- Eric Gomez
Out: Jesus Duenas
Given that Oribe Peralta and Jesus Corona were left out of the squad by mutual consent, the biggest snub has to be 28-year-old Tigres midfielder Jesus Duenas, a move that basically ends his chances of being in Russia.
The Michoacan native has been a regular in a Tigres side that has been the best in Liga MX in recent years. He's can play in central midfield or at right-back, has international experience under his belt and is a hard worker. The reason for his exclusion is surely more to do with Duenas' no-show last summer ahead of World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup, from which he asked to be excluded for "personal reasons."
His club teammate Jorge Torres Nilo is another that has fallen out of favor despite also being a consistent performer in Liga MX, while Jorge "Burrito" Hernandez's name also stuck out for not being on the roster. The 28-year-old doesn't appear to have the physical qualities to play a holding midfield role under Osorio and only has four caps to his name. -- Tom Marshall
Out: Omar Govea
Juan Carlos Osorio admitted that he asked director of national teams Dennis te Kloese to look into the possibility of convincing Royal Excel Mouscron to let Govea come to San Antonio. Osorio pointed out that he liked what Govea offered to the team during a November camp and the few minutes he got vs. Poland showed an energetic player, who contributed with quick passes in the midfield. It has been noticeable that, during his time at Mouscron, he has elevated his style of play.
If Osorio is considering giving Govea more looks, it means that he's not totally set on who will join Andres Guardado and Hector Herrera as part of Mexico's midfield this summer. Jonathan dos Santos can't afford to have a major drop in his form if he aspires to be named to the final 23-man roster because a player like Govea knows that, if he keeps improving his game and gets called-up for the March friendlies, he'll have some chances to be in Russia.
Immediately after Osorio's announcement, ESPN FC asked Govea if he had had contact with Mexico's coaching staff in the days leading up to the squad release, and he said no. He added that he might not have been given permission to go to San Antonio because Mouscron is going through a slump; the Belgian side has only achieved two league wins since the start of October. -- Nayib Moran