It's not a done deal yet, but the Mexican national team's three MLS-based stars Carlos Vela and Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos are looking like odds-on favorites to earn places on El Tri's final roster for the World Cup.
Coach Juan Carlos Osorio cut three players from his squad on Saturday, with Jesus Molina, Jurgen Damm and Oswaldo Alanis dismissed ahead of Saturday evening's send-off game vs. Scotland at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. That game will be quickly followed by a trans-Atlantic trip on Sunday ahead of next weekend's warm-up match at Denmark, Mexico's final friendly before their Russia 2018 opener vs. mighty Germany on June 17.
Those three cuts have led many El Tri observers to conclude that Giovani dos Santos' place in Russia is safe after the LA Galaxy playmaker's struggles with injuries this season led to doubts about his fitness for the World Cup. The elder of the dos Santos brothers was named to the starting XI vs. Scotland, as was LAFC's Vela:
But Osorio will likely have to make one more cut from the current group: He plans to travel to Europe with 24 players, as Diego Reyes, Andres Guardado and Hector Moreno are dealing with injuries that have put their availability in doubt.
Should all three recover in time for the World Cup, that would force Mexico to drop one player to reach a total squad of 23; ESPN's Tom Marshall is among those who expect that final departure would be Pachuca midfielder Erick Gutierrez.