Mexico

Probable Starters

Manuel Vidrio

DEFENDER #5

Mexico debut: vs. Canada (July 18, 1993)

Briefly: Played for Aguirre at Pachuca in the Mexican League. Not particularly fast, but very aggressive and a strong tackler. Even broke fellow national team player Francisco Palencia's jaw in a club match. He began his career with Chivas in 1992.

Alberto Garcia Aspe

MIDFIELDER #8

Mexico debut: vs. Honduras (April 26, 1988)

Briefly: A leader of Mexico's 1994 World Cup team, he had retired from international soccer before Aguirre talked him into returning to the team. At 35, he's now more a defense-minded ball-winner than a playmaker.

Gabriel Caballero

MIDFIELDER #19

Mexico debut: vs. Albania (March 13, 2002)

Briefly: Caballero is a controversial selection to Mexico's national team--born in Argentina, he was naturalized Dec. 11 and played his first game for Mexico, at 31, in the spring. A favorite of Manager Javier Aguirre when he led the Mexican League in scoring at Pachuca.

Oscar Perez

GOALKEEPER #1

Mexico debut: vs. Brazil (Dec. 16, 1997)

Briefly:, Nicknamed "the Rabbit" for his quick reflexes, which help compensate for his diminutive (5 feet 6 inches) size. Excels at coming off his line. A more adept shot-blocker than Jorge Campos, though about the same size. Had the starting position, since March.

Melvin Brown

DEFENDER #20

Mexico debut: vs. United States (Jan. 7, 2001)

Briefly: Relative newcomer to the national team has stabilized the left back position with his solid play. Reached the final of the 2001 Libertadores Cup with Cruz Azul, and his play at that time put him in position to play a significant role with the national team.

Rafael Marquez

DEFENDER #4

Mexico debut: vs. Ecuador (Feb. 5, 1997)

Briefly: Central defender who added considerable polish to his game while playing in France's First Division with Monaco. Replaces injured Claudio Suarez as the inspirational leader of the defense. Has a pretty volatile temper that shows itself on the field occasionally.

Cuauhtemoc Blanco

FORWARD #10

Mexico debut: vs. Uruguay (Feb. 1, 1995)

Briefly: Mexico's most valuable player, he led the team with nine goals during qualification despite playing in only seven games and starting only four. Coming off a strong season with the Spanish club Valladolid.

Francisco Palencia

FORWARD #17

Mexico debut: vs. Bolivia (June 8, 1996)

Briefly: Speed and shooting accuracy make him an effective complement to Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Acquitted himself well for a so-so Espanyol team in the Spanish First Division this season. Spent most of his career with Cruz Azul before heading to Spain.

Javier Aguirre

COACH

Debut as coach: vs. United States (July 1, 2001)

Briefly: Former Mexican national team midfielder hired to rescue Mexico's stalled World Cup qualification campaign. Took over a 13-1 team, overhauled the roster, switched to a 3-5-2 formation, emphasized defense and finished 4-0-1 to qualify.

Ramon Morales

MIDFIELDER #7

Mexico debut: vs. Brazil (July 12, 2001)

Briefly: Industrious outside midfielder who marks well and covers a lot of ground. Work ethic has made him a regular in Aguirre's system. Very fast, controls the ball well and has a calm presence along the back line despite lack of international experience.

Joahan Rodriguez

MIDFIELDER #18

Mexico debut: Vs. United States (Oct. 25, 2000)

Briefly: Has speed and some attacking instincts, though isn't counted on to be a primary scorer. Began professional career at Cruz Azul, but has developed into an international-caliber player at Santos.

Gerardo Torrado

MIDFIELDER #6

Mexico debut: vs. Argentina (June 9, 1999)

Briefly: Hard tackler who replaces the suspended Jesus Arellano in central midfield and can force the opposition to the outside. One of three Spanish-based players in Mexico's starting lineup, he spent last season with Sevilla.

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