Marquez and other lineup surprises 

November, 9, 2011

The predictive nature of Jose Manuel de la Torre's term as national team coach has made roster selection for friendlies mostly anti-climactic. Rarely have there been surprises, and the few that often pop up are so minor they hardly are worth mentioning. Barring injury, one can anticipate de la Torre's starting lineups with a precision that would make Las Vegas gamblers jealous: Fringe players rarely, if ever, start; young players not already entrenched in the starting lineup are mostly given bit roles as late-game substitutes; veteran players are always given priority.

Such a history made de la Torre's roster selection for Friday's match against Serbia so refreshing. Though he included most of the usual suspects, there were actually some selections that showed enough inspiration to give fans something to get excited about. Serbia obviously won't bring Brazil's star power, but they will present a challenge: a strong European team with good size who will challenge Mexico's toughness. Serbia is not elite but it isn't a pushover either. To match up, Mexico is bringing added depth on the back and front line.

Welcome back

Jonny Magallon, a 29-year-old center back for first-place Chivas was on Javier Aguirre's World Cup squad but did not play. Since then he's been ignored by de la Torre. While Mexico needs long-term young depth at the center back position, Magallon will at least provide temporary help and roster flexibility as he can play two positions on the back line. Magallon may end up being a vital component of Mexico's World Cup qualifier squad next year. While likely not a starter, Magallon may at least earn his way onto the team as a key sub.