Mexico’s game in Denver is about selecting national team, not to mention winning title.
As the biennial CONCACAF Gold Cup unfolds over the next two weeks, national soccer teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean will battle for pride and a title they give high priority.
But for Mexico and the U.S. national team, there is another underlying drama at work: What happens now could shape the makeup of their World Cup squads next summer.
As with Team USA’s Gold Cup roster, the Mexican team that will play Jamaica on Thursday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High is essentially a B team, but some of the players will be hoping to play their way onto the first team in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
That includes Jesus Molina, one of the best midfielders in Mexico, who plays for Monterrey.
“My position is very competitive,” Molina said of Mexico’s midfield depth. “I have to show my best with the opportunities I get, and with that I can earn a position for the World Cup. I have one year to perform the best I can, and then be taken into consideration.”
Mexico finished fourth in the recent Confederations Cup in Russia, which was more or less a dress-rehearsal tournament for next year, but that was Mexico’s first team.
Defender Luis Reyes is the only player here who played in the Confederations Cup. This isn’t a team filled with second-division players, though. It has several players from Mexican league champions Chivas, and most would favor Mexico to hoist the Gold Cup on July 26 in Santa Clara, Calif.
“With this group, the majority is very young players consolidating with each other at a senior level,” said Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio. “It’s going to be an interesting game for all the Mexican team.”
Before the Mexico-Jamaica game, El Salvador will play Curacao. Organizers announced Wednesday that ticket sales had surpassed 40,000. A large contingent of Mexican “El Tri” fans are expected to turn the Broncos’ stadium green, white and red.
“This and every single game the Mexican team plays in the United States is important to Mexican natives that live in the States and MexicanAmericans because they feel that is their team,” said Esdrel Peinado, the Spanish-language voice of the Rapids for more than a decade. “I have two boys that played with the Colorado Rapids DA (development academy) teams, and even though they were born in the United States and were looked at by the United States national teams, they still feel the Mexican team is their team.”
The CONCACAF Mexican team is largely composed of younger players, Juan Carlos Osorio said.