Mexico manager Gerardo Martino won't admit to promoting a youth revolution within his squad, but he doesn't need to say a word. In sculpting his team for the CONCACAF Nations League, El Tri's manager is quietly pushing for a much-needed infusion of young talent.
Mexico's roster for the latest round of games includes 15 players with five or fewer national team caps, two of whom are enjoying their first call-ups. Martino's management can make it easy to miss the absences of stalwarts such as goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and midfielders Marco Fabian and Miguel Layun. Taking their place instead, as they have done in recent FIFA dates, are names such as Jose Hernandez, Jose Juan Macias, Cristian Calderon, Alan Mozo and Francisco Cordova.
Martino insists that the talent of the younger players is the reason for the key absences, noting that Cordova (among others) is capable of filling in for Fabian. "You'll never hear anything otherwise from me," Martino said. "My answers will be about football."
Youth infusion for El Tri
Here are the players with five or fewer appearances for Mexico's senior national team in Martino's latest squad:
Jose Juan Macias, FW, Leon (20 years old)
Johan Vasquez, DF, Monterrey (20)
Jesus Angulo, DF, Necaxa (21)
Jorge Sanchez, DF, America (21)
Jose Hernandez, GK, Atlante (22)*
Cristian Calderon, DF, Necaxa (22)
Alan Mozo, DF, Pumas (22)
Sebastian Cordova, MF, America (22)
Uriel Antuna, MF, LA Galaxy (22)
Jose Ivan Rodriguez, MF, Leon (23)
Luis Romo, DF, Queretaro (24)*
* denotes players called up for the first time
Only four of the 23 Mexico players who participated in the 2018 World Cup are on the latest Nations League roster: Carlos Salcedo, Hector Herrera, Hirving Lozano and Jesus Corona. The average age difference between the two squads dropped from 26.2 years to 23.1.
Mexico's Nations League roster is rife with players aged 20-24 and that list could grow given how Martino has been working with players who will comprise next year's Olympic squad.
"We hope some of these players can compete for a spot on the senior team in the short term," Martino said in the lead-up to Friday's Nations League match against Bermuda.
Former Barcelona player and manager Charly Rexach describes Martino as a manager not defined by extremes. He is neither tyrant nor statue, but rather a manager of typical temperament who knows how to make decisions. Quietly, however, Martino appears to be revolutionizing El Tri.