Mexican national team head coach Gerardo Martino has announced the official 26-player World Cup roster, with Raul Jimenez and Rogelio Funes Mori headlining the attack.
Martino made several shocking omissions from the final roster, with Diego Lainez and Santiago Gimenez the two most notable. The Argentinian coach instead opted for Roberto ‘Piojo’ Alvarado, Funes Mori, Henry Martin, Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano, Jimenez, and Alexis Vega to form the team’s offense.
Many expected Gimenez to replace Jimenez after the Wolves figure suffered a groin injury that kept him on the sidelines for the weeks leading up to the international tournament. But he has since made a quick recovery, securing his place on Tata Martino’s list.
El Tri will kick off the tournament on November 22 against Poland, before confronting Group C opponents Argentina and Saudi Arabia.
Here are the notable omissions and inclusions on Mexico’s World Cup roster…
Diego Lainez has been left out of the World Cup roster. / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages
Shock echoed through Mexican national team supporters as Gerardo Martino opted for Roberto ‘Piojo’ Alvardo over Diego Lainez.
The player has been a crucial part of El Tri since his debut in 2018, recording three goals in 21 appearances. He played a key role for Martino’s side during Concacaf tournaments and the qualifying cycle, helping Mexico conclude in second place on the table with 28 points in 14 games to make the World Cup.
But his time on the pitch has been limited by clubs. The player saw minimal action with Real Betis, forcing a loan stint at Sporting Braga ahead of the 2022/2023 season. Though he’s improved in the Portuguese league, Lainez failed to secure a starting role in the crucial weeks leading up to the World Cup, and instead serves only as a last-minute substitute.
He’s played just 151 minutes since joining Braga.
Santiago Gimenez did not make the Mexico roster. / Soccrates Images/GettyImages
Gerardo Martino selected Henry Martin, Rogelio Funes Mori and Raul Jimenez, leaving behind Santiago Gimenez as the team’s potential striker.
Gimenez joined Mexico in 2020, declining an opportunity to play for Argentina and represent El Tri instead. He’s managed two goals in nine appearances since his first senior cap in 2021 under Gerardo Martino.
The forward became a figure to watch after a breakthrough 2022 Liga MX Apertura campaign with Cruz Azul, scoring five goals in five games to inspire a move abroad. He joined Eredivisie’s Feyenoord in July, and soon became one of their leading goalscorers.
He’s managed two goals in the Dutch league and four in the Europa League, in just 18 appearances overall.
Many expected Gimenez to replace Raul Jimenez after the Wolves figure suffered a groin injury that kept him on the sidelines for the weeks leading up to the international tournament. But Raul has since made a quick recovery, securing his place on Tata Martino’s list.
Roberto Alvarado is headed to Qatar with Mexico. / Omar Vega/GettyImages
The Chivas de Guadalajara player is at the center of controversy. Head coach Gerardo Martino opted for Piojo Alvarado over Diego Lainez in a shocking move.
Alvarado kicked off his professional career in 2013 with Celaya, where he managed 10 goals in 62 Ascenso MX appearances before making the jump to the senior league. He featured for Pachuca, Necaxa and Cruz Azul, prior to reaching Chivas de Guadalajara in 2018.
His club performances propelled him to an international career with the Mexican national team.
Piojo debuted on August 29, 2018 in a friendly against Uruguay, but has since become an integral part of Tata Martino’s squad. He replaced Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona in the months leading up to the tournament, after the Sevilla player was on the sidelines with a severe injury.
The Chivas de Guadalajara player worked out well for Martino, given his ability to connect with teammate Alexis Vega on the attack. The dynamic duo hold the starting positions at Chivas, inspiring chemistry on and off the field.
Piojo’s versatility also gives him the edge over Lainez, as Martino picked players with the ability to play in two positions. Though the Chivas figure works best as a right winger, he can easily sub in as a false nine to give the attack a fresh start against Group C opponents Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia.
“It would be a dream come true to go to the World Cup, I would accomplish a great goal,” said Piojo Alvarado exclusively to 90min.
“Behind the dream has been a huge effort made, being away from home, away from family, on trips and everything, so it would be a huge honor to be able to go to the World Cup. It would be an honor to share the field with this great group, and why not be able to make history and leave the name of Mexico high.
“Going to the World Cup would be a dream that I want to fulfil. I want to be able to make history with Mexico, and go on to that long-awaited fifth game that is being talked about. I want Mexicans to feel proud.”
Carlos Acevedo did not make the Mexican roster. / Omar Vega/GettyImages
It’s no surprise that Carlos Acevedo wasn’t going to make the World Cup list. Gerardo Martino made the message clear when omitting the Santos Laguna goalkeeper from the larger, 30-player roster.
But his absence is still shocking.
Martino opted instead for Alfredo Talavera and Rodolfo Cota as second and third choice goalkeepers, prioritizing past experience over a fresh new talent. Though Guillermo Ochoa will likely play all matches for Mexico in Qatar, Acevedo’s inclusion in the 26-player roster would have been a bid for the future.
There will be a turnover in Mexico’s camp as veterans like Ochoa, Cota and Talavera retire in the years leading up to the next World Cup, forcing the next batch of goalkeepers to feature in the international tournament with no prior experience.
Qatar stood as the prime opportunity to pave the way for Mexico’s future in goal.
Raul Jimenez is headed to Qatar. / Omar Vega/GettyImages
Many swore his injury would hold him back.
In September, Raul Jimenez made his way back to the sidelines with a groin/adductor issue.
Wolves confirmed the Mexican striker would be unavailable for a few weeks, putting into question his national team involvement. Though he joined El Tri for the friendlies against Peru and Colombia in California, the player did not feature during the matches.
In the weeks leading up to the final roster announcement, Raul Jimenez trained with Mexico and traveled to England to receive his last bit of medical attention regarding the injury. His place on Tata Martino’s list remained on the line, with Santiago Gimenez as the clear choice to take over.
The question was never, ‘would Martino pick him over Gimenez?’ but rather ‘Is he going to be healthy in time for the first game?’
It’s no secret Martino relies on Jimenez as his first choice number nine, trumping Rogelio Funes Mori and Henry Martin in the hierarchy. He featured in most Concacaf tournaments and the qualifying cycle from 2019 to 2022, barring injury spells.
He has 29 goals in 96 appearances for Mexico, overall.