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Mexico announces roster for upcoming World Cup qualifiers vs. USA, Honduras

Carlos Vela is still away from El Tri, but Chepo still has a strong squad available for Mexico's upcoming qualifiers against the U.S. and Honduras.

Bob Levey

Mexico are already the best team in CONCACAF and will present a stern enough test for Honduras and the United States in next week's World Cup qualifying, but a nearly full strength El Tri squad will make things even more difficult for the Americans and Catrachos. The scintillating Carlos Vela is still not on the Mexico team as he continues to focus on his club career and deals with whatever rift there is between he and Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre, while Pablo Barrera remains out as he recovers from his knee injury, but the rest of the team is Chepo's first choice squad.

What will be interesting to see is whether Chepo continues to play a 4-4-2 with Javier Hernandez and Oribe Peralta up front together. He's recently said that he likes pairing the two together, but that requires either playing Giovani dos Santos out of position on the wing or dropping him, a tactic that has not served El Tri well of late.

Also worth keeping an eye on is which two players partner in the center of the Mexico midfield. Jesus Zavala is finding his form again and could be one choice, while Hector Herrera has starred for club and country of late, but veterans Carlos Salcido and Gerardo Torrado are on the roster and could be the choice for the strange, veteran-loving Chepo.

Chepo's affinity for older players is apparent at the back, where Francisco "Maza" Javier Rodriguez and Jonny Magallon have both received call-ups. It is an interesting crop of defenders too, with five centerbacks called in that could indicate a formation change from Chepo as El Tri play with a three-man backline. But as long as Hector Moreno is in the center of the El Tri defense, all should be well enough, at least in CONCACAF.

Whoever Chepo decides to play and however he tries to play them, there is no doubt that they will be favorites in Honduras on March 22 and at Azteca four days later against the U.S. As long as he has Chicharito up top, the blazing Andres Guardado wide, Moreno in back and an array of outstanding options in the midfield, Mexico will continue to be huge tests for whoever they play -- and this time it is the U.S. and Honduras.

Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa, Jesús Corona, Alfredo Talavera

Defenders: Severo Meza, Jonny Magallón, Francisco "Maza" Javier Rodriguez, Héctor Moreno, Hugo Ayala, Diego Reyes, Jose Torres Nilo

Midfielders: Jesús Zavala, Carlos Salcido, Gerardo Torrado, Jesús Molina, Héctor Herrera, Javier Aquino, Andrés Guardado

Forwards: Ángel Reyna, Giovani Dos Santos, Oribe Peralta, Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, Omar Bravo, Raúl Jiménez