It's an age-old paradox. Although a national team consists of individuals working together to create a unit, there are inevitable differences involved. One of the most evident is between players who ply their trade in the nation they represent and those who do so abroad. For El Tri, the division creates a debate among supporters in regard to the question of whether a player is more effective in a tough league abroad, even if playing time is restricted or almost nonexistent, or it's better to get regular playing time in Liga MX.
The recent call-ups by coach Miguel Herrera will only add fuel to that discourse. Although the majority of the players are from Liga MX, the inclusion of some Europeans who only have bench time this season could mean they will have to earn their spots as starters.
The competition begins at the goalkeeper position, with the same pair that vied for a starting spot in the World Cup: Jesus Corona of Cruz Azul against Guillermo Ochoa, who is now with Malaga but not starting regularly.
Ochoa won World Cup honors last year. He might outshine Corona again for a starting spot, but logic also dictates that at some point, Ochoa's lack of game action will take a toll on his skills. That time might be now.
Of the defenders brought in by Herrera, only Diego Reyes and Hector Moreno play abroad. Yet it's hard to characterize what Reyes does as playing for Porto, as he hasn't appeared in any matches for the team this year. Moreno contrasts sharply against Reyes, as he is a stalwart at center-back for Espanyol. While Reyes has had tremendous potential for years, putting him on the roster might have left off Jair Pereira, another player who has exhibited better current form due to regular game performances.
One precedent interesting to observe is the call-up of Jonathan Dos Santos. His absence of two years from the national team was attributed by many to his lack of first-team action for Barcelona, though the prestige of that club is as high as others, such as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, who are contributing bench players such as Javier Hernandez and Raul Jimenez, respectively, to El Tri's roster.
Now, however, Dos Santos plays much more regularly at Villarreal, and his familiarity in matches with another key Mexico player, his brother Giovani, can only help the squad. Still, if the standard for a national team call-up from abroad is game play, it seems to be inconsistently applied.
Another inconsistency arises regarding the call-up of Miguel Layun. His move abroad to England to play for Watford in the Championship was specifically criticized by Herrera. Layun has gotten playing time with Watford, but it was the quality of the competition that Herrera seemed to question. It doesn't make much sense to censure a player's decision and then validate the same player with a call-up.
Layun was a regular in Herrera's first year as coach, but that was playing as a defender, not a midfielder. Liga MX offers many options in that position. Luis Montes, Carlos Pena, Isaac Brizuela, Arturo "Ponchito" Gonzalez and Marco Fabian are all quality candidates in the midfield who were not brought in by Herrera.
It's in the attacking positions, however, that Liga MX candidates are completely outnumbered by their counterparts abroad. Only Eduardo Herrera of Pumas represents Liga MX, though the absence of Oribe Peralta is likely due in part to his recent thigh injury.
Of the European contingent of strikers, though Giovani Dos Santos has played often for Villarreal, he has scored only once this season. Twente's Jesús Corona has been performing well for his club, but the surprise here is that he is listed as a forward, given that he plays regularly as winger for his club.
Hernández and Jimenez have seen barely any time on the field this year in Spain, but perhaps part of the reason the duo continues to receive call-ups is even in Liga MX, few Mexican strikers are having a standout season at present. Aside from Peralta, the league goalscoring chart is dominated by foreign players. Even young starlets such as Erick Torres, the Guadalajara player who is a recent hero for the club, haven't gotten consistent game time. So if the knock on the Euro duo is the lack thereof, Torres still doesn't emerge as a viable replacement for that same reason.
Regardless of where they play for their clubs or how much, the Mexico players will have to prove their worth against the same standard -- in the eyes of the coach before he picks his starters and on the field of play in upcoming friendlies. With the Gold Cup and Copa America looming, those final roster choices will crucial.