MEXICO CITY – Guillermo Ochoa has José Manuel de La Torre’s confidence. That much is apparent.
The Mexico manager named the veteran goalkeeper captain for Tuesday’s crunch World Cup qualifier against the United States (10:30 pm ET; ESPN/Univision, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com) and confirmed that left back Jorge Torres Nilo is eligible to play.
“Chepo” de La Torre also said that Ochoa would get the nod in the net, despite Jesús Corona being the usual No. 1. Ochoa also started in El Tri’s 2-2 draw last Friday against Honduras.
“Memo Ochoa was vice captain in the last game,” de la Torre said at Monday's press conference. “[The captain] is usually someone with experience, someone who knows what these challenges are all about.”
The only suspension on the Mexican side is that of regular captain Francisco “Maza” Rodríguez, and while Ochoa will take his armband, it’s not yet clear who will take Maza’s place on the backline. Nonetheless, it is widely thought that one of Hugo Ayala or Diego Reyes will step into his shoes.
Tigres UANL player Torres Nilo will be allowed to play despite numerous press reports that he was suspended. Chepo stated that there had been confusion about it even within the Mexico camp, but that FIFA confirmed Rodríguez is the only player missing out.
Javier Hernández and Giovani dos Santos both limped off in the second half of Mexico’s game in Honduras, but Mexico’s explosive forwards are fit to face the United States.
De la Torre refused to be pressed on the specific challenges of the US team that El Tri will confront on Tuesday, but praised the squad, manager Jurgen Klinsmann and indicated that he and his backroom staff have been analyzing the newer members of the US set-up.
“The United States has had a clear way of playing,” said Chepo. “The roster has changed, but they are still a strong team.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.