GUADALAJARA, Mexico – There have been consistent and quality performances this season from a host of Yanks south of the Rio Grande, with five or six players now legitimately in the frame for US national team call-ups for the friendlies and qualifiers beginning later this month and stretching into June.
May 26 vs. Scotland (friendly): 8 pm ET (Jacksonville, Fla.)
May 30 vs. Brazil (friendly): 8 pm ET (Landover, Md.)
June 3 vs. Canada (friendly): 7 pm ET (Toronto)
June 8 vs. Antigua and Barbuda (WCQ): 7 pm ET (Tampa, Fla.)
June 12 vs. Guatemala (WCQ): 9 pm ET (Guatemala City, Guatemala)
Mexico-based players Michael Orozco Fiscal, Edgar Castillo, José Torres and DaMarcus Beasley were all named in Jurgen Klinsmann’s first squad last August, but in more recent call-ups, there has been a notable decline.
Is that about to change? There are legitimate reasons to think it could. We take a look at what Americans in Mexico have done this past season to stake their claim for a place in the US camp.
José Francisco Torres
Unlucky with injury over the past eight months, “El Gringo” last played for the US in September’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium, but was called into the last camp in February before withdrawing due to a groin strain.
Back in Mexico with Pachuca, Torres’ Clausura 2012 campaign could be considered the best season of his career, as the midfielder notched 18 starts in helping los Tuzos to sixth place in the general table.
Torres has consistently displayed the same traits that help set him apart from other central midfielders in the player pool: high technical ability on the ball, a wide range of passing that can unlock defenses and a natural intelligence for reading the game.
As a note of caution, Torres has been playing in the center of midfield alongside powerhouse defensive midfielder Segundo Castillo this season, something which has given the diminutive Texan more creative license. When Castillo was missing through injury in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, Torres didn’t quite look himself.
There is life after playing in Europe. After spinning the roulette wheel and arriving in Mexico to don the blue and white of Puebla last summer, Beasley has proved his quality and adaptability yet again.
In 30 starts since joining La Franja, Beasley has seven goals and was his team’s most impressive performer in the Clausura 2012, sparking rumors of possible moves back to Europe or to a bigger Mexican club.
Still only 29, a return to the national team for the ever-popular Beasley would bring a wealth of experience into the US squad, as well as a player who is currently in scintillating form.
Goals are the bread and butter of strikers and Gomez has 11 since joining Santos Laguna, one every 77 minutes of play. That’s slightly better than 11-goal San Jose Earthquakes marksman Chris Wondolowski, who has scored every 82 minutes this season in MLS.
The Klinsmann camp recently contacted Gomez and there has been a steady stream of public support for the 30-year-old to get his first call-up since August 2010.
Recently, a groin strain hampered Gomez’s involvement for los Guerreros, forcing him to play games through the pain barrier and then sit out some league games, although he looked sharp last time out last Sunday against Jaguares.
With Santos Laguna still in the playoffs, the semifinal games on Thursday and Sunday against Tigres UANL could be key to Gomez’s involvement in the national team later this month; that is, if Klinsmann hasn’t already decided one way or the other.
“El Homie” knew the Clausura 2012 championship was somewhat of a last chance in Mexico. Club Tijuana even told him as much after he arrived after spending his career jumping from club to club in Mexico’s top division over the past few years.
He obviously took that message to heart, as the New Mexico native has enjoyed his best run of form since the back end of 2008. The 25-year-old started all 19 of Tijuana’s games and has rejuvenated his career in the process.
At national team level, Castillo’s versatility could appeal to Klinsmann, with the Xolos player capable of playing anywhere down the left side of the pitch.
Although Castillo’s defensive ability has been put into question, left back could still be an option, especially in those difficult qualifying games against CONCACAF teams determined to park the bus.
An outsider at present for the full national team, Corona has made giant strides over the past few months.
The Club Tijuana midfielder/forward won a place in the starting 11 at the club level and was one of the star performers for the United States’ doomed Under-23 side in Olympic qualifying.
If Klinsmann looks to promote players from the U-23 squad, Corona’s name would be near the top of the list.
Michael Orozco Fiscal
Hampered by San Luis’ poor form, Orozco Fiscal hasn’t been able to shine as he would’ve liked this season, but he has still been a regular for los Gladiadores.
A call-up would be a surprise, but Klinsmann obviously has a soft spot for the former Philadelphia Union man, having played him in three national team games in 2011.
A year ago this month, the Tigres player was called into the US Gold Cup squad, but hasn’t played a competitive league game at club level since.
Bornstein looked bright in the center of midfielder in two Copa Libertadores games early in the year, but the former Chivas USA man is a long way from catching Klinsmann’s eye at present.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. He can be reached via email@example.com.