August 25, 2014
The Big Verde Weekly Update: Jerseys, Javier Aquino, and soccer purgatory

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(I’m 5”7’ myself, so I love it when short soccer players do well. Awesome job Aquino)

Today is Monday.

Which means that it is typically my “writing day” and by that I mean I usually have to write a couple of articles, watch a couple of games, and then end it with a fun video podcast with these guys.

Unfortunately today, I spent a good deal of time just researching jerseys. I haven’t bought a jersey since last year and damn it, my capitalistic selfish self wants one.

I was actually quite close to buying a Hellas Verona away jersey with Rafa’s name on it, but decided I should probably use that money for more important things. Like beer or maybe some food for my cat.

Either way, I might just scrap the Weekly Update next week and rank my favorite Europeo jerseys.

Why?

Because it’s my blog and I do what I want!

(cue my only 8 or 9 followers leaving at this point in the article and deciding to check out a Mexican soccer blog with more integrity)

I don’t know, maybe I wont, it just sounds like a fun idea and I might go full spontaneity this year and pepper in random lists instead of player updates every now and then just for fun. What are your thoughts?

We could even do “El Tri’s top 10 haircuts” but I now realize immediately after writing that, that I do not want to turn into a Buzzfeed-like blog about the Mexican national team and Mexican players abroad.

How awful would it be if I had a “10 THINGS ONLY EL TRI FANS WILL UNDERSTAND” article or “18 SIGNS THAT YOU’RE A TRUE MEXICO DEVOTEE.”

I already feel weird thinking about that. Yet, I might still do the jersey article.

Alright, I might as well go to the weekend update from here.

Updates!

-Rafael Marquez played all ninety minutes for Hellas Verona during their 3-0 win over Cremonese in the Coppa Italia on Sunday. Verona will now play Perguia, a Serie B squad, in the round of 16 of the tournament later on this year. Marquez has apparently adapted to the squad and has already seemed to be a favorite when you consider the fact that his face is front and center on their twitter page.

-Carlos Vela was brought on as a late sub for Real Sociedad during their 1-0 loss to Eibar. Vela, who is arguably their best player, has just recovered from an injury and hasn’t taken part in any of the previous friendlies from the summer.

-Guillermo Ochoa seemed set to be Malaga’s starting goalkeeper but instead found a spot on the bench during their 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. 30 year-old Carlos Kameni was excellent in goal for Malaga and will provide Ochoa with some tough competition this season.

-It’s the same ol’ story with Chicharito. The little pea had no playing time during Manchester United’s 1-1 tie with Sunderland, and, he is now linked to another Italian team. Again. This time, the rumored squad appears to be Juventus who are interested in bringing him in. These are definitely frustrating times for the striker and I’ll be glad when his future is set at least for a short time with a club.

-Hector Moreno is still injured but his Espanyol squad were able to find a 1-1 tie against Almeria on Saturday.

-Giovani dos Santos started for Villarreal in their 2-0 win against Levante. The Yellow Submarine picked up a vital three points away from home and were helped with the attacking talent that Gio provided. As for his brother, Jonathan, he was left behind for the away match. Jonathan will likely be a back-up player for either Bruno or Trigueros in the middle and it didn’t help when the midfielder wasn’t able to perform when given opportunities during the preseason.

-Javier Aquino started off a bit slow against Atletico Madrid, but soon picked up his pace after the second half had started. The 24 year-old was having fun out on the pitch and it should definitely be noted that this was against Atletico “Last year’s La Liga Champions” Madrid. Massive game from the winger for Rayo Vallecano, I’m really looking forward to see what else he will do this season. Rayo Vallecano 0-0 Atletico Madrid.

-As for the other fellow Mexicano on the pitch, Raul Jimenez played 62 minutes in his La Liga debut. The striker had a decent game and actually linked up well with Mario Mandzukic in the first half. Jimenez was unlucky to not have an assist in the game.

-While Hector Herrera has been busy with Porto, Diego Reyes has yet to make an appearance since the preseason for the Dragons. Herrera has been a key player during the recent Champions League and Portuguese Liga matches but it should be worrying for Reyes that he has not been included in any of those games. Ferreira 0-1 Porto.

-Andres Guardado is on his way to the Eredivisie. PSV Eindhoven are reportedly bringing him in on loan for the season after they made a deal with Valencia. I’m a bit bothered by the move because Guardado had been doing so well for Valencia during the preseason but hope “El Principito” is able to transition well into the team. I might also be bothered because I was genuinely considering an away jersey as my next online purchase.

-Nery Castillo. What is there to say about you when you can’t even play for one minute in the Greek Superleague? Kalloni tied their first game of the season against PAOK 1-1, without any help from Castillo.

-Jesus “Tecatito” Corona has been jumping around from Twente’s senior and reserve teams. The striker had recently been called back up to the senior team but played twice with the reserve team last week. Tecatito is already struggling to find minutes and the rest of the season may not get any better for him.

-Gabriel Piccolo is left without a team. The central defender from Mexico City had a mutual termination of his contract with Partick Thistle just a few days ago. There have been no rumors as to where he will be heading next.

-Ulises Davila continues to have an uncertain future. The attacker is still training with the Chelsea reserves but there doesn’t seem to be any intention of him playing the senior team. Like Piccolo, Davila will be looking for a team for this upcoming season.

International player of the Week: Javier Aquino. The winger had no inhibitions when he played against Atletico Madrid and looked like one of the best players from the game.

Schedule (in pacific standard time)

Tuesday, August 26th 2014

11:45 a.m. - Lille @ Porto - Champions League

Noon - Manchester United @ Milton Keynes Dons - Capital One Cup

——-

Thursday, August 28th 2014

10:00 a.m. - PSV Eindhoven @ Shakhter Soligorsk - Europa League

10:00 a.m. - Real Sociedad @ Krasnodar - Europa League

10:30 a.m. - FK Karabakh @ FC Twente - Europa League

11:45 a.m. - FC Astana @ Villarreal - Europa League

——-

Friday, August 29th 2014

1:00 p.m. - Malaga @ Valencia - La Liga

——-

Saturday, August 30th 2014

4:45 a.m. - Manchester United @ Burnley - EPL

9:15 a.m. - Ergotelis @ Kalloni - Greek Super League

Noon - Atletico Madrid @ Eibar - La Liga

2:00 p.m. - Sevilla @ Espanyol - La Liga

——-

Sunday, August 31st 2014

3:30 a.m. - Vitesse Arnhem @ PSV Eindhoven - Eredivisie

7:45 a.m. - Feyenoord @ Twente - Eredivisie

9:00 a.m - Hellas Verona @ Atalanta - Serie A

10:00 a.m. - Moreirense @ Porto - Portuguese Liga

10:00 a.m. - Barcelona @ Villarreal - La Liga

Noon - Rayo Vallecano @ Deportivo La Coruña - La Liga

Noon - Real Madrid @ Real Sociedad - La Liga

August 19, 2014
The Big Verde Weekly Update: Rankings, Jimenez, and terrible Greek translations.

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(They’re already letting him play?! He’s been there, for what, 8 hours?!)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (I’m pretty sure I’ve used that statement multiple times and let’s be honest, it’s a weird one. Who actually lives under a rock, other than Patrick Star? Then again, Patrick Star lived under a rock but still had access to a tv and a couch), you may not have known that Raul Jimenez has made his way over to Atletico Madrid.

Which is massive.

Most Mexican players gradually make their way up to the big teams, but some (see: Chicharito) are lucky enough to jump straight into the best teams in Europe.

Raul Jimenez has already started in a friendly for Atletico Madrid and has impressed head coach Diego Simeone. He may even have time today against Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Copa!

The 23 year-old is capable of thriving in this big stage and I believe I speak for all of us El Tri fans when I say that I’m very very very excited to see him playing in La Liga this season.

As for the rest of the players, I decided to do something a bit different this week. Since most seasons are about to start or have started, wouldn’t it be fun to rank the Mexicans in Europe?

Did you just say “no?” Well, you might be right. These will be entirely subjective and may even be less relevant than the monthly FIFA rankings.

Either way, let’s just have fun with this. If you disagree or agree, feel free to bother me here about it. I would genuinely love your feedback.

Cesar’s Europeo Rankings for the 2014-2015 Season

1. Giovani dos Santos - Villarreal

Congrats Gio, I’ve decided that you will be the standout Mexican player in Europe this season. Expect a congratulatory ham and medal in 6-8 weeks.

The 25 year-old attacker has always had the potential for being a great player but has let off-the-field behavior and constant team changes get in his way. Now, with a decent showing at the World Cup behind him, Gio will be playing his second season with Villarreal. This is the first time that he has played with a team for more than one season since his time back in Tottenham.

Gio has been playing great futbol recently I can only assume that he will get better.

2. Guillermo Ochoa - Malaga

Ochoa didn’t sign for a huge club this summer but he was still able to make a small step forward by moving into La Liga.

The goalkeeper was brilliant during the World Cup and will have a huge opportunity to prove his worth this season. In France, he went up against Ibrahimovic. In Spain, he will have Ronaldo, Messi, Bale, Neymar, and countless others to stop. Let’s hope he does actually stop their shots.

He may have had a small slip-up in his first game with Malaga, but I predict a stand-out season for the goalkeeper.

3. Carlos Vela - Real Sociedad

Vela really should be at #1 on this list. Yet, his recent injury has had the attacker out of practice for quite some time now and I can’t see him getting right back into form.

The Cancun native will have even less help in the attack now that Antoine Griezmann has moved to Atletico Madrid. This means that there will be more pressure for Vela to carry the team and provide goals.

I imagine Vela will still do very well this season, but I don’t think it will exceed the performance he had during the last year.

4. Raul Jimenez - Atletico Madrid

He just seems destined to do well, doesn’t he? He’s only 23 but will be competing with Mario Mandzukic for a spot in the attack. Just saying that is already remarkable.

Jimenez has the makings of a world-class player and will find enough minutes this season to help him succeed. He may not be a constant starter for Atletico, but they will be involved in enough competitions to give the young striker plenty of time.

5. Hector Herrera - Porto

Herrera seems to be gaining confidence with each game. He has already established himself as key player for Porto and will only continue to grow in his abilities.

The midfielder has become an eye-catching player and I wouldn’t be shocked if he were to make a move to a bigger team next summer.

6. Andres Guardado – Valencia

It’s time for the little prince’s second wind.

Guardado was able to surprise everybody during the World Cup, and if the preseason is any sign, he will continue that form during this upcoming season. The midfielder has stated that Piojo has helped him find some new motivation and I believe that this year with Valencia may prove to be his best.

He has already scored…

7. Chicharito – Manchester United/Wherever

It’s hard being Chicharito when everybody constantly compares him to his first season he had at United. If he does stay with the club, he will continue to be an efficient striker, but only given limited time.

If he moves to a new club, it’s hard to say how he will do. A move seems beneficial to him at this point in his career, but with each passing day, it seems as if Hernandez might just be settled as a late impact player for United once again.

8. Javier Aquino – Rayo Vallecano

Aquino will quietly prosper with Rayo Vallecano. The winger knocked in a goal in his first game with the team and I predict that he will be a vital figure in their offense.

He wont make headlines like Ochoa or Vela, but given a season or two, he might be able to.

9. Diego Reyes – Porto

Placing Reyes this far down the list was a bit tricky. He slowly garnered playing time at the end of last season but spent a majority of that same season with Porto B. With the national team, he hasn’t been able to step up the way we have all wanted and was understandably replaced by Maza Rodriguez in defense.

That being said, the ex-America player has an immense amount of talent but will need another season or two to begin to make a name for himself in the futbol world.

10. Rafael Marquez – Hellas Verona

Rafa will probably get a few cards, he might even get in a fight or two, but he will have a decent season in Serie A.

El Kaiser proved this summer that he is still capable of making some beautiful plays and will likely do the same in Italy for Hellas Verona. Also, as mentioned before, I would love to see him start right next to his teammate Rafael Marques. A Rafael Marquez & Rafael Marques partnership would be amazing.

11. Jonathan dos Santos – Villarreal

Jona has the “Barcelona” stamp on him, and I believe that makes us overvalue him a bit too much. Or perhaps, I guess I should say that I think we expect too much of him.

The midfielder has literally averaged only a few games every year and it will be interesting to see how he will transition over to Villarreal. Jona hasn’t exceeded expectations over the summer and I imagine it may take a few months for him to hit his stride.

12. Jesus “Tecatito” Corona – Twente

Sure, he scored twice on Monday, but it was for the reserve squad. Tecatito was out of shape when he returned from the summer and had a recent injury at the start of the season. There were also rumors of the player having a bit of an “attitude” problem with the coaching staff.

Corona will probably score a couple of goals this season but I can’t see him breaking the first team in Twente.

13. Ulises Davila - ???

Davila became a club hero after scoring the goal that promoted them to La Liga over the summer. That being said, Chelsea have not been able to find common ground with the Spanish-side and the striker has yet to be assigned to a team.

I hope he is sent back to Cordoba, but it’s hard to predict his future at this point.

14. Gabriel Piccolo – Partick Thistle

Piccolo was a back-up option in defense for Thistle and failed to make an impact when he was given chances. The defender has been left out of the starting lineup for two games in a row now for the Scottish Premiership squad. His contract ends at the end of the season and I assume the squad will presumably sell the player.

15. Nery Castillo – Kalloni FC

Here you fall Nery. You’re ranked behind the defender who can’t even get time in a weak Scottish team. You’re ranked behind a player who doesn’t even have a team yet. You’re ranked behind a young player who showed up a bit too heavy to training for his Dutch team.

And for that, I like you. You’re going to have a terrible season but there is something admirable about the fact that you would even go back. It’s going to be a failure and we all know it. You’re just as likely to score as I am likely to understand a single word from Kalloni’s twitter page.

——-

Alright, those are my rankings. What are your thoughts? What do you agree with? What do you not agree with?

Sidenote, I decided to leave out any players who weren’t playing in the top league of their respective country.

Also, I left out Hector Moreno due to his extended injury.

August 12, 2014
The Big Verde Weekly Update: Piojo press conference, season previews, and Gob Bluth

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(Piojo and Hector Gonzalez Iñarritu, such rebels)

I actually had a chance to meet Piojo today. It was almost too exciting. I introduced myself and did my best to not ask him if he would consider calling me up.

There was a soccer ball nearby and I genuinely fantasized about rushing over to it, busting out a few tricks, and then having Piojo ask me whether I would like to tag along with the team and play as an honorary member of the squad. I’m a great defender Piojo and we all know that Rafa isn’t getting any younger.

In actuality though, I asked Piojo a couple of serious questions and then shook his hand. There’s always next time…

At the press conference, Piojo stated a few interesting things. First, he reiterated that Rafa Marquez is still a member of El Tri. He stated that Rafa and himself had discussed his immediate future and that Rafa felt it would be best for Piojo to consider utilizing new players as opposed to himself for the upcoming friendlies. Piojo went on to say that later on this year or perhaps early next year, he will check in with Rafa to see how well he’s doing and would potentially bring him in to play in the major tournaments.

Speaking of new players, Piojo also mentioned that he would like to utilize some key members from the World Cup squad and young talent during the two friendlies next month. He later told me that there are plenty of young players in the Liga MX that he is considering for said games.

Other than that, there were no real surprises from the conference. Piojo also mentioned that Mexico will prioritize the Gold Cup over the Copa America next year, but that was somewhat expected.

After the photo session ended, everybody began to slowly leave the press area and I quickly recognized that I probably wasn’t invited to the decadent lunch that was following the event.

Now, onto a special segment of season previews for the Europeos! The previews will focus primarily on the players as opposed to their squads, but I might dive into some information about the teams as well.

Season Preview for 2014-2015

Rafael Marquez - Hellas Verona

One year ago, who would have ever guessed that Rafael Marquez would head to Serie A after the World Cup?

El Kaiser surprised many with his dominant performances this year which made his move to Italy justified. He played almost as a “quarterback” for the national team with his beautiful and accurate long passes going forward.

Hellas Verona brought on the player for the season and are already touting him as leader and an example for the rest of the team. Will Rafa succeed in Italy?

Predicted outcome: I can’t see him fail. Perhaps I’m still enamored with his performance from the World Cup but it looks as if Rafa wants to continue doing well. As long as he can stay away from those unnecessary fouls, he should do fine and be a vital player for Verona.

Carlos Vela - Real Sociedad

Carlos Vela, who has twice been voted as Real Sociedad’s player of the year, returns to San Sebastian after having his most successful season abroad. Now that Antoine Griezmann is over at Atletico Madrid, Sociedad will rely on Vela even more this upcoming season.

Vela, however, is still recovering from a plantar fasciitis injury and has missed many preseason games.

Predicted outcome: Vela will once again succeed in La Liga and help Real Sociedad finish in a respectable spot in the league table. His recognition in world futbol may even increase more with a good run in the Europa League.

Guillermo Ochoa - Malaga

Memo struggled a bit over the weekend for Los Boquerones (the anchovies, yup), but we all know what he is capable of. It’s too early to begin criticizing the goalkeeper and I assume this team will be another stepping stone towards an even bigger club.

Predicted outcome: Ochoa is a world-class keeper and will play like it this season. It’s one thing to stop Zlatan, and another to stop Messi, Ronaldo, Bale, and countless others. This is his time to really shine and I hope he takes advantage of it.

Hector Moreno - Espanyol

Moreno had the potential to move to a bigger squad this summer but was unfortunately injured during the World Cup. The injury has left him out of action for about 4-6 months. Moreno may come back at the end of the season, but he wont be nearly as influential as he was last year for obvious reasons.

Predicted outcome: Moreno will arrive late in the season and may have to wait another year to make a big move.

Giovani dos Santos - Villarreal

Other than Carlos Vela, Gio seems to be Mexico’s best player in Europe at the moment. Gio has finally found a home with Villarreal and has stated on numerous occasions that the management has played him in a second striker position that he feels more comfortable with.

The crazy thing about the 80-caps, ex-Barcelona, and ex-Tottenham player is that he is only 25 years old. Gio has infamously stumbled in the past with some of his decisions, but the attacker has finally matured a bit and found a club team that he seems to appreciate.

Predicted outcome: Gio will be another key player for Villarreal. The striker will help Villarreal finish with at least a Europa League spot and will be inspired with his brother on board.

Jonathan dos Santos - Villarreal

Jona has finally left Barcelona! I believe he literally averaged a game or two every season for that squad. Now that the 24 year-old doesn’t have to compete with the world’s best, he may finally get playing time and even get a chance to play with Mexico again.

It will be very exciting to see Jona and Gio playing together this season.

Predicted outcome: Jona will get the playing time he truly needs, but we may have to wait another season to see him at his best. One thing we need to keep in mind is that we rarely ever get to see him play. He was only called up to the national team a handful of times and seldom left the bench for Barcelona. Jona has the potential to be a massive player, but I can’t help but think that it might take a full season or two for that to happen.

Javier Aquino - Rayo Vallecano

Aquino was recently sent on loan to Rayo from Villarreal. I’ve always enjoyed watching Aquino on the field and think he can be an excellent player if he worked on his final touch on the ball.

Rayo will give him the opportunity for more playing time and the ability to let him grow a bit more.

Predicted outcome: Aquino isn’t the kind of player who will make a weekly La Liga best 11 squad…yet. He is an audacious player with huge potential, but he still needs to refine certain aspects of his game.

Aquino has obviously taken steps in the right direction (he has gotten better at defending) and should be a key player for Rayo this season.

Hector Herrera - Porto

Speaking of potential, Herrera has the potential to be one of the Portuguese Liga’s top players. Herrera is gaining confidence with each game and seemed to impress the management over at Porto last season. The midfielder has gradually become one of Mexico’s best players and I can easily see that form continuing with Porto.

Predicted outcome: Next summer, Herrera might make a big jump to a major squad. If his current form continues, the “Mexican Ribery” could become a world-class player.

Diego Reyes - Porto

I think we all sometimes forget that Diego Reyes is only 21 years-old. The central defender spent a good deal of time last season with Porto’s B squad and wasn’t able to grow up as fast as we would have liked for the World Cup. Reyes has the makings of a dominant defender, but like so many others, we will have to be patient to see his full potential.

Predicted outcome: Reyes will slowly battle his way to a starting spot for Porto. As for a move to a bigger team, it may have to wait for a couple of years.

Andres Guardado - Valencia

The 27 year-old veteran has found a second wind. Guardado had an outstanding World Cup and is looking to continue that momentum in Valencia. The midfielder is actually being played in midfield now and the positive change is already apparent in Valencia’s friendlies.

Predicted outcome: The “old” Guardado will return. Now that he has a new-found inspiration, and a coach that plays him in the right spot, Guardado should be able to flourish this season in La Liga and maintain a spot in El Tri.

Nery Castillo - Kalloni FC

Nery is heading back to Greece. After another dismal season for the striker, Nery is now attempting to find some of his old magic in Greece with Kalloni FC. Whether it’s all just an illusion (cue Gob Bluth), is another question.

Predicted outcome: It will be difficult for Nery to make a comeback and just as difficult for me to do research on the Greek SuperLeague. Castillo has tried many times, but I can’t see him getting any better or reaching the form he once had.

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona - FC Twente

Tecatito started off last season with a bang after scoring his first goal during his first debut with Twente. Since then, Corona has been inconsistent with his form and it hasn’t helped that he showed up overweight over the summer.

Predicted outcome: Corona will battle for much-need minutes with Twente but I can’t see him finding much success. He’s already had a questionable start after returning unfit and has recently injured his ankle during a training session.

Jonathan Espericueta - Villarreal B

Espericueta had sporadic minutes with Villarreal’s B squad last year and will look to play for at least another 5-6 months when his loan spell ends. I hope Villarreal keep the skillful midfielder for another season.

Predicted outcome: Due to the fact that he wasn’t highly influential last season, Espericueta will need to make an immediate impact soon. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Villarreal send him back to Tigres at the end of the year.

Gabriel Piccolo - Partick Thistle

Piccolo was a backup defender last season and will likely have the same role this time around as well. The 24 year-old central defender still has another year left on his contract with Partick Thistle.

Predicted outcome: Piccolo will once again struggle this season. He never looked confident when he was given time on the pitch and may not be the at the level that he should be for the Scottish Premiership.


——-

Chicharito, Ulises Davila, and Alan Pulido were left out because their futures are still unclear at the moment. Also, although the Raul Jimenez deal is almost complete with Atletico Madrid, I left him out because there has been no confirmations just yet.

More than likely, I assume there will be a confirmation from both squads as soon as I post this.

August 5, 2014
No weekly update this week. I’m sorry. Don’t cry.

Life gets in the way of things sometimes. Such as getting in the way of writing my dear weekly updates. Although it seems like I just blabber on for ten minutes and then post these, I actually spend a good deal of time doing research and editing my own stuff.

Now I feel like a jerk for saying that. “I actually spend a good deal of time doing research and editing my own stuff” sounds like something somebody would say who I wouldn’t like. Shut up jerk, nobody cares about your crappy editing and limited diction.

Anyways, life has been busy. I’ve been able to write more articles for other sources, which is excellent. Yet, I still haven’t been able to leave my day job for $$$ reasons. Food and rent, unfortunately cost $$$.

That being said, I’m working on a season preview article which I’m really excited for. I promise I’ll post it on time, maybe.

July 29, 2014
The Big Verde Weekly Update: Friendlies announced, awaiting transfers, and 2 new additions.

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(I’m a little disappointed that Levi’s stadium isn’t entirely made of denim)

Welcome to another Weekly Update! I’m not entirely sure why I’m introducing this as if it were a tv show. Well, on with the “show.”

If you haven’t heard yet, FIFA have confirmed four friendlies for Mexico this year. Here is what they look like:

-September 6th vs Chile in Santa Clara, CA. @ Levi’s Stadium

-September 9th vs Bolivia in Denver, CO. @ Mile High Stadium Commerce City, CO. @ Dick’s Sporting Goods Park

-November 14th vs The Netherlands in Amsterdam. Venue TBA

-November 18th vs Belarus in Minsk. Venue TBA.

I’m especially excited to see El Tri visit Europe. Nearly all of their matches are played in the United States for obvious reasons ($$$), so it’s nice to see the squad playing abroad.

I believe all of these matches fall on FIFA dates, so it will be interesting to see who gets called up. This would also make it much easier for any of the Europeos to take part in the friendlies when they are much closer as well.

It’s almost a guarantee that I will be at the Santa Clara game, but either way, I will keep you guys and gals posted.

Speaking of updates.

Updates

-Chicharito was finally involved in a match with Manchester United recently, but for only about 20 minutes. The Little Pea’s future is still up in the air after Louis van Gaal had mentioned to the media that there are too many players in the same positions. We will have to wait and see what this means for Chicharito. Although I guess it does help that he recognized Chich’s talent as well when he mentioned it to the press. I still say he goes to another squad. Or to my rec-league team.

-Carlos Vela is still injured and wont get to take part in Real Sociedad’s first Europa League match this upcoming Thursday. This is usually where I make some sort of joke about “karma,” but I will have to save that for later if he decides to once again turn down the national team in the future.

-Guillermo Ochoa still does not have a team. He and his agent seem fairly confident they will find a squad but they can’t wait too long. I’ve seen it. You’re like the really cool guy in high school who waits at the last minute for a prom date, but what if everybody is taken?! Note: I was never the “cool guy” in high school. I was the more practical nerdy kid who attempted (and usually failed) to ask out a girl way in advance of school dances.

Malaga seem to be the next best option for Ochoa at the moment and there are rumors that Getafe are interested as well.

-Hector Moreno is still injured but should be back in about 4-6 months for Espanyol.

-Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos seem to be having a great time. Don’t they? The brothers have been taking more photos together than tourists do in New York city. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s nice to see the two together and I really do hope this means that there will be some exciting Villarreal soccer this season. Who knows what this will mean for El Tri as well.

-Javier Aquino was supposed to go to Celtic on loan, but a Scottish newspaper has made a claim that the deal is no longer happening. The deal is still feasible, but it’s now doubtful that he will move to the Scottish Premiership. Unless he decides to take his brand new car with him as well.

-Hector Herrera and Diego Reyes both started for Porto recently in their friendly against St. Etienne. Porto’s new coach, Julen Lopetegui, seems to have faith in the El Tri players and I hope this continues for the rest of their time in Portugal.

-Andres Guardado is still in the early stages of training with Valencia down in South America. Due to the fact that he just arrived last week, I doubt that the midfielder/defender/wing-back/attacking mid/winger will take part in their friendly today against Universidad Catolica.

-Ulises Davila still doesn’t have a team. Well, technically Chelsea still own him but they are currently in talks with the player over his future. Davila still has two years left on his contract with Chelsea but would like to once again play for Cordoba. Chelsea and Cordoba were in talks for weeks but were never able to find a solution to the dilemma.

-Nery “Cesar’s favorite” Castillo is once again in Greece. This time he is with Kalloni F.C. and I will seriously send you twenty dollars if you can even name three players (other than Castillo) who currently play on Kalloni. Without looking online either. I’m not sure how I could prove that.

Castillo wasn’t featured in Kalloni’s 3-1 loss to Napoli yesterday.

-Jesus “Tecatito” Corona started for FC Twente’s…B team. Reports online have stated that he was not only overweight, but also had a bit of an attitude problem with management when he returned from the summer. Therefore, dropped down to the reserve squad.

-Jonathan Espericueta is still in Villarreal B’s team and I hope he can stay for another season. It would be excellent to see him get more playing time in Spain. His loan lasts until the end of this year.

-Gabriel Piccolo is once again training with Partick Thistle as they prepare for their first match of the season on August 9th. Piccolo will more than likely play as backup for one of the central defender positions this season.

——-

Typically, this is all I cover, but today I’m excited to announce that I found two more players to cover! Which will honestly be very difficult to cover so I may not have much information to be honest.

Either way, I will do what I can in the future.

First, we have 23 year-old Alexis Mendiola who plays for Östersunds FK in the Swedish 2nd division.

Next, there is 22 year-old Pedro Arce who plays for Kavala in the Greek 3rd division.

If you happen to know any other Mexicanos in Europe, please let me know. I would love to cover them.

July 21, 2014
The Big Verde Weekly Update: Corona & Piojo, Nery in Greece, and Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur

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(Pictured: Piojo and a camera that is much much better than mine)

The Big Verde Weekly Update is back for the season!

Prepare to be underwhelmed by me once again because I have returned from my cave where I have been dealing with my cat’s recent flea-situation. I have had to wash and vacuum everything, I hate it. I highly recommend that if you have a pet, just throw them outside and never let them back in. Forever.

Just kidding, I love my cat (said Cesar while he scratched one of the numerous bug bites on his legs).

Speaking of small bugs, unless you have been living in an actual cave (or paying attention to more important things), you have probably heard about the debacle between Piojo and Chuy Corona.

It all started with this video at about the 18:25 mark. Essentially, Piojo goes on about his decision to choose Ochoa over Corona. His answer starts innocently enough but once he begins to go into the details of the situation, you could feel a bit of awkward tension in the room. Piojo mentions that Corona was bothered and then had a one-on-one conversation with the goalkeeper about the decision. Piojo then claims that Corona asked if there was any outside influence on the decision.

Hector Gonzalez Iñarritu even stops smiling and I can only imagine him screaming in his head DAMN IT PIOJO, TOO MANY DETAILS MAN, TOO MANY DETAILS.

Corona at first responded to the media by saying that he is skeptical about the trust that he has in Piojo and that certain things should be left in the locker room. He confirmed the conversation they had and once again stated that he was a bit confused as to why he wasn’t the starter after doing so well for the national team. He then later stated that he will always be with the national team, but will have to think about his future.

Here is my take in the situation.

Nothing wrong with Piojo discussing the situation to the media but he probably should have left out the details about Corona being angry afterwards. Piojo should have known better than to have said that because people like me eat that animosity stuff up and will then post about the WAR BETWEEN PIOJO AND CORONA. Not a huge mistake from Piojo but it’s a mistake nonetheless.

Corona, on the other hand, should be bothered by the comments but also must recognize that stating he is unsure about the national team worries nobody. Chuy is a wonderful keeper and is easily one of the top two keepers along with Ochoa at the moment, but if he were to not come back, Mexico would be fine. Talavera could easily take over, Moises Muñoz is another great option, and after those two there are countless others who Mexico could utilize. Not to mention Mexico would still have Ochoa.

Alright, onto the updates!

Updates

-Chicharito! Remember that guy? He was Manchester United’s mascot on the bench. I’m joking…somewhat. The Little Pea was at first left out of the Manchester United U.S. tour but was recently added onto the squad list. What this means, nobody knows. Chicharito is desperate for minutes this upcoming season but new coach Louis van Gaal hasn’t really said much that would indicate whether he is staying on the squad or not. As mentioned before, I believe he should definitely move. There are plenty of great squads out there who would love to have him as a starter.

-Looks like Carlos Vela is staying with Real Sociedad. Actually, it has looked that way since June when he renewed his contract for four years but this is the first time I’ve written about it. He will miss out on Real Sociedad’s first match of the Europa League on July 31st after injuring his right foot.

-Guillermo Ochoa seemed destined for any squad after the World Cup, but potential suitors have slowly been picking other options. Ochoa has stated that he will make no serious commitments until after he is done with his vacation. I wonder what advice Redfoo from LMFAO is giving him on his transfer this summer. Fun Fact: Redfoo is actually Berry Gordy Jr.’s son. You know, the Berry Gordy who started Motown records. I wonder how he feels about his son’s music.

-Espanyol’s director of sports recently stated that Hector Moreno will once again be an important member of the squad…after he returns from injury 4-6 months from now. Moreno had been rumored to leave Espanyol, a squad he has outgrown, but the injury during the World Cup has stifled any chances of transferring out this summer.

-Giovani dos Santos and his brother Jonathan dos Santos will be together this season at Villarreal! Both seem very excited to be playing together and I eagerly await any and every Villarreal match. Although Gio’s ex-gf doesn’t seem to be too happy with him at the moment.

-Speaking of Villarreal, Javier Aquino may transfer out of the squad after being rumored to join Celtic this upcoming season. I personally think Villarreal is the much better option but Celtic are a Champions League squad. Well, they will continue to be a Champions League squad if they can get past Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur today. Or KR for short, it’s a bit easier that way. They finished 1st in the Icelandic football league last season.

-Hector Herrera and Diego Reyes are both training once again with FC Porto. Reyes has taken part in a couple of friendlies and there are plenty of questions about how much playing time either Mexicano will have with new coach, Julen Lopetegui.

-There were a few rumors about Andres Guardado returning to Mexico, but it looks as if the midfielder wishes to continue with Valencia. Although he hasn’t played with them during the preseason, Guardado still has another two years left on his contract with the Spanish-side.

-Ulises Davila is still in squad purgatory after weeks of talks with Chelsea and Cordoba that have led to nothing. Cordoba are intent on bringing the player back but for whatever reason Chelsea are not budging. I highly doubt Chelsea wants to bring him back, so I can only assume they want a bit more $$$ for the player who essentially secured Cordoba’s promotion to La Liga.

-Somehow, someway, Nery Castillo is still in Europe. The 30 year-old striker is back in Greece with Kalloni FC. Kalloni finished in 12th last season in the Greek SuperLeague and are looking to Castillo for some extra support in attack.

-Jesus “Tecatito” Corona was deemed too heavy after the summer and was dropped down to FC Twente’s reserve squad. There is still a few weeks until the beginning of the season but this isn’t exactly a great start to his second season in Holland.

-There isn’t much news coming from Villarreal B for Jonathan Espericueta, but the young midfielder still has until December for his loan to end with the squad.

-Gabriel Piccolo will once again return to Partick Thistle. Whether Thistle are able to remain in the Scottish Premiership this season will be another question.

——-

Alright, I believe that’s it! Unless Carlos Peña, Miguel Layun, Raul Jimenez, Marco Fabian, Gallo Vazquez, or countless others make a trade anytime soon.

July 3, 2014
El Tri bows out of the World Cup

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(Credit to Mascara De Latex for this design. It might just be a design made for fun, but I hope he eventually releases it on his website.)

I’m writing this not because I want to, but because I feel like I have to.

After finishing a quick summary piece a few days ago, I assumed that that would be it. End of that Mexican novel about El Tri at the World Cup. Onto the Liga MX, some MLS, and eventually some sweet European futbol.

I figured I would wake up from my World Cup hibernation, go outside, and maybe even hang out with my friends that I have ignored since early last month.

However, Mexico’s cruel ghost still haunts me. It follows me wherever I go and whispers subtle reminders about things that could have been. I’m driving to work and then-WHY DID WE SIT BACK AFTER THE GIO GOAL? Talking to my girlfriend when-WHAT IF WE FINISHED 1ST IN GROUP A? WHAT IF WE BEAT CHILE? Watching tv and then all of the sudden-I HATE YOU ROBBEN, WELL, NOT REALLY BECAUSE I’VE ALWAYS LIKED THE DUTCH NATIONAL TEAM BUT YOU’RE DEFINITELY OUT OF MY “JERSEYS THAT I WANT” LIST.

Like an awkward and ridiculous form of PTSD, I’ve been left feeling like this anytime I even hear or see something soccer-related.

It seems awful and it feels awful, doesn’t it? I even try to keep it cool. As if I’m already over the World Cup and “definitely” looking forward to everything else. Oh yeah, I knew Mexico was going to be out by the round of 16, no big deal, I’m over it. Now, I’m super stoked about watching some delicious Liga MX preseason matches. Who needs the World Cup when you have the battle of the century between Queretaro vs Pachuca? (Cut to me glancing back at my Mexico jersey every now and then. Giving it mean yet loving looks).

In all of this emotional madness and confusion, there needs to be something we should remember. El Tri did well.

I know some of you futbol historians, who are currently rocking the 1998 World Cup Aztec jersey, will quickly point out that this is the sixth time in a row that Mexico leave the round of 16 so there’s nothing new. Yet, this time around, El Tri were expected to completely crash and burn but finished in 10th place. Don’t ask me how FIFA does that math, but that would technically mean that Mexico in 2014 had their third-highest finish ever in the World Cup. How cool is that?

This was all done under the leadership of a coach who had only been with the squad for less than a year. Some of these players had never even played together until a few weeks before the World Cup even started. Carlos Vela, arguably Mexico’s best player, wasn’t even on the team. All of this combined with the awful 2013 should have spelled more disaster for the national team.

Mexico, were somehow able to overcame it all. They tied Brazil in Brazil! We beat Croatia 3-1. We almost beat the Dutch. It’s all very impressive if you take a step back. I now see this as more as a beginning of a new novel instead of the end of one.

14 of the Mexico players called up to the World Cup will either be 30 years old or younger by the time the 2018 tournament begins. That’s massively significant and should be exciting for so many El Tri fans looking to the future. 2013 was the exact kind of wake-up call that the squad needed and I can only assume that there will be more motivation to take the qualification rounds more seriously the next time around.

Yes, it’s heartbreaking to watch Mexico once again exit out of the World Cup in the round of 16 once again, but many would have never believed that El Tri would even finish the group stage in second place. It also leaves a big question unanswered. How well would the team have done if they were given more time to train together?

To me, the 2014 World Cup will be just an appetizer of all the great things that will follow for the national team in the coming years.

It’s ridiculous to predict these things, but I’m going to say that the squad will at least finish in the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup!*



* Disclaimer-What am I talking about? Am I just pandering to you all by saying this? Maybe I’m just trying to start a discussion. I mean, even if Mexico had the best squad in it’s history, there is no way of predicting how well other squads will be at that point. Oh well, I’m still confident we will do well. Check back with me four years from now at a bar somewhere in Moscow.

——-

By the way, I will soon bring back the Weekly Update once the World Cup is over. I’m really excited about the new season coming up and things will likely kick-off with a “Europeo season preview” at some point soon. The Big Verde will unfortunately be back after my summer break in front of the tv.

June 27, 2014
The Big Verde’s guide to Brazil 2014: Looking ahead to Mexico vs the Netherlands

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(I hope he’s practicing his celebrations for Sunday)

There’s no need for tactical talk or formations at this point. You’ve all heard plenty of it. Maybe even from me through other online sources.

At this point, Mexico for better or worse have made it into the round of 16. I know that sounds a bit odd, “for better or worse,” but the national team would have actually been forgiven by many if they didn’t make it out of the group stage.

2013 was a bit of a reality check and I believe it made most Mexico fans, including myself, more humble. I recognized the fact that the CONCACAF was not a laughable group and realized that every and any game couldn’t be taken for granted. As if there were a need for more proof, three of the four CONCACAF teams in the World Cup qualified for the round of 16. That’s massively important and shows the world that our region is much more than “Mexico/United States and friends.”

Going into the World Cup, plenty of fans were just happy that the national team was attending. Piojo was given little time to work with the squad and many of the players were given even less time to try to work together on the field. It would have been completely forgivable if the squad crashed and burned in the group stage.

Honestly, if Mexico would have finished dead last in Group A, it wouldn’t have been an outrage. We would have all pointed to our preparation, shrugged it all off and crossed our fingers that the US national team wouldn’t win the World Cup.

Yet, now that Mexico have crossed that hurdle, a bit of their swagger has returned and so has the swagger of the fans and media. Our perspective quickly went from “Oh God, I hope we don’t lost 8-0 to everybody” to “Let’s make it to the quarterfinals!”

I know that’s a completely rational approach, I’m saying the same things, but the expectations of the national team have drastically skyrocketed after the group stage.

Luckily for Mexico, succeeding in the World Cup is all about hitting the right form at the right time, which El Tri is doing. If the 3-1 win over Croatia meant nothing to you, you can consider us no longer friends and I wish you the best of luck watching something other than futbol at the moment. Perhaps “True Detective,” I’ve heard good things and want to watch it.

I guess what I’m getting at is that we should all feel lucky about how well Mexico have done, but good lord do they look destined to shock the tournament.

No team has stood out as a dominant force so far that could get in Mexico’s way. Even the Dutch have proven to have some weaknesses. They were losing to Australia 2-1 at one point last week. Australia! Mexico are truly lucky to be where they are at, but the way the tournament is heading, it could be a perfect moment for Mexico and what a beautiful moment it would be.

Seriously, Disney would be all over the rights to the story. Could you imagine it? The drama with the coaches, the Maza middle finger, the Carlos Vela drama, Chicharito’s lack of goals. It would be gorgeous in the end if they were to win the World Cup. As long as you cast me as Chicharito. Alright fine, cast Bruno Mars as Chicharito, he is a Hernandez after all like me and Chich but better looking.

It’s weird to think that the past few years have all been in preparation for this weekend. Once I have kids, I will surely look back fondly on this tournament and discuss in detail every game. Which is genuinely weird to think about. The World Cup, for me, has always been like the beginning or end to a chapter in my life story. It’s actually a very convenient checkpoint when I look back at my past.

I distinctly remember where I was at and what I was doing when I look back to the summers of 2010, 2006, 2002, etc. I know I will remember every celebration, every yell of frustration, every shot on net. Mexico have undoubtedly been terrible the past couple of years, but nobody will remember that. All that fans will remember is their performance during this World Cup and I hope that it will be a good one.

El Tri have the capability to beat the Netherlands this weekend and if they can accomplish that, I truly believe that anything will possible for them afterwards.

#QuieroCreer

June 12, 2014
The Big Verde’s guide to Brazil 2014: One day away from Mexico vs Cameroon

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(If the “Chihuahua guy” isn’t present in Brazil, I will be sorely disappointed)

I’m back by popular demand!

Well, almost. There was a total of three people who asked about the missing Weekly Updates, but I am here nonetheless! Thank you to all three of my fans out there.

I’ve been busy with other extracurricular activities but that’s not what you want to hear right now, is it? This isn’t The Big Life Update blog. This is The Big Verde and we are all here to talk about the World Cup. At least I believe that is why you are here. So who cares if I have been busy, let’s talk futbol.

The World Cup. The World Cup is almost here. Even though I most definitely agree with John Oliver, I can’t help but feel like a seven year-old the night before Christmas. Then again, we all know how that will go. There will be unrealistic expectations. I’m definitely getting a Nintendo 64 tomorrow. It’s Christmas. It’s going to happen.

Sure, it could happen, but you know what happened that Christmas? I got English Leather. It smelled like sadness and last-minute gift buying. I’m not saying that Mexico will crash and burn out of the World Cup but I just wanted to highlight the fact that I, as a rational human being, still think in the back of my head that Mexico has a decent chance of winning the World Cup. According to the Economist, Mexico has a 1.6% chance of winning the World Cup. Now, I should feel depressed over that statistic, but like the seven year-old that I currently am mentally, all I see is MEXICO WILL WIN THE WORLD CUP. I believe Lloyd Christmas portrays my emotions perfectly.

Alright, alright. Let’s just dive right into it before I begin crying into old photos of Hugo Sanchez and Jorge Campos.

Predicted Starting XI for Mexico against Cameroon:

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Oops, wrong starting eleven. I believe this is the right one over here.


By the time you read this, Piojo Herrera may have already announced his line-up, but I assume it wont look very different from this.

The Ochoa vs Corona debate is a win-win situation for me. If Ochoa starts, awesome. If Corona starts, awesome. If Talavera somehow sneaks in, not nearly as awesome.

In central defense Rafa and Moreno are guaranteed starters and Maza has somehow made me feel not so angry during the past games. Maza, who was synonymous with Yakety Sax music for me, has actually done quite well during the most recent friendlies for Mexico. Diego Reyes is capable of being a much better player but has unfortunately not proved it on the field for me.

Miguel Layun may be one of Mexico’s breakout stars and Paul Aguilar has made no mistakes that would justify taking him out of a starting spot.

In the middle, Gallo Vazquez will have one of the more difficult tasks in the World Cup. The 5’5” midfielder who played in second and third division Mexican soccer a few years ago, is now a starting player for Mexico. He will be given the role of Mexico’s defensive midfielder and will need to be at his very best if we want any chance of doing well. Andres Guardado is another player I wasn’t fond of until his recent performances, but I still believe that Marco Fabian is a much better option. Then there’s Hector Herrera who seems destined to be Mexico’s top player in Brazil.

Up top is a tricky situation. No forward stood out amongst his peers after the friendlies and even the hard-working Chicharito has yet to score for Mexico since the Confederations’ Cup tournament last summer. Playing Dos Santos and Peralta makes sense, especially considering their past partnership in the Olympic squad back in 2012. Raul Jimenez is a bit off form but his partnership with Alan Pulido against the United States was the best attacking soccer that Mexico has had so far this year.

So, how will Mexico do against Cameroon? I’m guessing a narrow 2-1 win. Cameroon has an impressive roster but their recent shenanigans with pay disputes says plenty about their chances to implode off the field. That being said, Mexico will also recognize the fact for a much much-needed win with the help from a goal each by Hector Herrera and Chicharito (as a late sub).

——-

Alright guys, this is it. Keep your fingers crossed that I actually get Comcast to install cable today in my apartment for the first time. If not, just find me at the local bar with my notebook and laptop.

By the way, make sure to follow me here if you want to keep up to date with my ramblings.

My apologies once again for not posting nearly as often either. It will get better…I think.

May 19, 2014
Europeo grades for the 2013-2014 season

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(What is this? College? Why are there only four classes?)

Alright class, the futbol school year is now over and Professor Hernandez (me) now has your grades for the season.

There were plenty of surprises and disappointments this year but I do hope that you will all have fun during your vacation to Brazil this summer. Well, I hope the seven of you have fun. The rest of you can just take part in the World Cup fun with your Playstations. Oops, my bad Carlos.


Chicharito (Manchester United): C+

It’s hard being Chicharito nowadays. The striker hasn’t scored for Mexico since the Confederations Cup last year and has had his worst season with Manchester United since joining them back in 2010. Yet, his nine goals and four assists are still decent considering the time he was given by David Moyes and the recent state of the United squad. There was plenty of pressure for Chicharito to be a last minute savior for United in multiple games this season and at times there were unrealistic …goals (not the scoring kind) for him.

Chich wasn’t at his best this season but you have to give him the benefit of the doubt when you look at the irregular minutes that he was given by Moyes. He is also definitely a player to watch during Mexico’s next few friendlies. Chich has plenty to prove and still has the capabilities to do it.

Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad): A

Vela has become a key player for Real Sociedad and an emerging force in La Liga. After years of failed transfers and spells in Europe, Vela seems to have finally found his form in San Sebastian. Even Arsenal seem to be interested once again for the attacker. Who wouldn’t want a player that finished in the top ten for scoring and assists in La Liga?

Whether you like him or not, you can’t argue about the sheer talent that Vela has a player. It’s a shame Sociedad wont be in the Champions League but then again we may not see Vela at Sociedad either if he gets an enticing offer this summer.

Guillermo Ochoa (AC Ajaccio): A-

On average, Ajaccio conceded 15.3 shots per game this season. That is the highest average in Ligue 1 and the person dealing with almost every single one of those shots was Guillermo Ochoa. Ochoa was Ajaccio’s savior for three seasons in a row and it was surprising that “Memo” stayed with the squad for so long.

Now that Ajaccio are being relegated, Ochoa will be looking at the various offers from what I assume is a long list of European clubs. I’m putting my money on a transfer to Marseille.

Hector Moreno (Espanyol): B+

Moreno was rarely the most important player on the pitch for Espanyol this season but he also rarely made mistakes for the squad. The central defender is still only 26 years old but he needs to get out of the mid-table obscurity that Espanyol seems to love.

Moreno has now spent almost three full years with Espanyol. He has been one of the few Europeos who have been consistent for club and country during the past couple of years. With head coach Javier Aguirre set to leave the squad, I can see Moreno being motivated to leave as well. Either way, another above par season for the central defender.

Giovani dos Santos (Villarreal): A

"I don’t get no respect!" -Giovani Dangerfield early 2013.

Alright, that was a bad joke, but you get the idea. For years, Gio was known as the kind of player who excelled for Mexico but never for club, whichever one he happened to be with at the time. Now with Villarreal, Gio seems much more comfortable and confident in La Liga. The striker was a constant threat on the pitch and one of the more vital aspects of Villarreal’s attack.

Villarreal is back and so is Giovani dos Santos.

Javier Aquino (Villarreal): B

Aquino has had a great season with Villarreal, but it could have been a bit better if he had not been injured for part of it and also not disappeared in a few games for The Yellow Submarine.

The winger has definitely grown as a player since going to Spain (much better defensive game) but still needs to develop a bit with his final touch on the ball. He has confidence, speed, and wonderful dribbling skills. Given a year or two more, he could be a dangerous winger for Mexico. I imagine by the time that 2018 comes around, he will definitely be a starter for the national team.

Hector Herrera (FC Porto): B+

Herrera must definitely be happy with the time that he has spent with Porto so far. The midfielder quickly assimilated into the squad and had plenty of regular minutes by the end of the season. A couple of excellent goals late in the season also helped promote the talent that the midfielder is capable of.

The “Mexican Ribery” will get to take part in the Europa League next season and it will be really exciting to see what he can do once again in the European competition.

Diego Reyes (FC Porto): B-

While Reyes is now happily with the senior Porto side, he did spend a good portion of his time with the “B” squad during the first few months of the season. Luckily for Reyes, the “B” squad coach Luis Castro, was placed as interim manager of the senior team in March and brought along Reyes with him. Since then Reyes has had a significant increase of time with senior squad.

The question now remains whether new coach Julen Lopetegui will utilize Reyes next season as well.

Andres Guardado (Valencia/Bayer Leverkusen): C-

On paper, it sounds impressive. A 27 year-old winger/defender with 100 caps for Mexico playing for Valencia and then Bayer Leverkusen. Yet, Guardado was anything but impressive this season. With Valencia, he awkwardly played as a wing-back and gave us good performances sporadically. Just enough to give us all hope. He would be terrible for 2 or 3 matches in a row and then have one decent game. It was frustrating.

Moving to Bayer Leverkusen on loan was a gamble and Guardado had nothing to show by the end of the season. He had maybe one or two good games for the German-side and I highly doubt they will ask to have him back next season. Although he wont admit it, he needs to return to Mexico. Both Valencia and Leverkussen struggled to find a spot for him and Guardado can’t keep living on his past victories and achievements.

Nery Castillo (Rayo Vallecano): D

I can’t fail him. I should, but his one good performance where he scored two goals against Villarreal in January is saving him from being a complete failure. Castillo’s trip to Spain will be a short once his contract with the squad is finished on June 30th. He rarely played for the squad and by February he was seldom seen on even the bench.

I could see him potentially going back to Greece but the Liga MX seems like a more likely candidate. Then again, which squad will really push to sign the forward?

Jesus Manuel Corona (FC Twente): C+

"Tecatito" had plenty of great competition against the powerful attackers that FC Twente had. Which is why it was understandable that he was given the small amount of time on the pitch that he had this season.

Corona is still very young and has another three years with Twente on his contract. He still needs another year or two to develop in Europe before we start hearing about superb performances from him. I was surprised though that he was even able to score two goals this season.

Jonathan Espericueta (Villarreal B): No grade

I wish I could give Espericueta a grade but he has only been with Villarreal B for a short time. He is technically on loan with the squad but I hope that they will bring him back to Spain next season.

Anibal Zurdo (Sabadell): A-

Zurdo, the 31 year-old from Tabasco had another excellent season for Sabadell. The striker finished the year with 17 goals for his team and helped them stay afloat for another year in the Segunda Division.

I’ve said it in the past, but I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing him up for a friendly or two after the World Cup. He has openly mentioned in the past that he would love a call-up and it would be interesting to see what he could do. I doubt he would contribute much but it’s hard to argue against 17 goals in a season, even if it is in the second division of Spain.

Ulises Davila (Cordoba): C

Davila had a few moments of brilliance for Cordoba this season but primarily spent most of it as a sub or ineffective attacker. Davila still has another two years on his contract with Chelsea and it doesn’t appear that the EPL giants will be bringing him up anytime soon.

Gabriel Piccolo (Partick Thistle): C-

Piccolo struggled to find regular time in the Scottish Premiership and was lucky that Thistle had plenty of space to cover with the defensive injuries throughout the season. Piccolo was never convincing when he started for Thistle and wasn’t at all a threat for opposing squads. Piccolo still has another year on his contract but I imagine we will continue to see irregular performances next year as well.

——-

Grade summaries:

Carlos Vela: A
Giovani dos Santos: A
Guillermo Ochoa: A-
Anibal Zurdo: A-
Hector Moreno: B+
Hector Herrera: B+
Javier Aquino: B
Diego Reyes: B-
Chicharito: C+
Jesus Manuel Corona: C+
Ulises Davila: C
Andres Guardado: C-
Gabriel Piccolo: C-
Nery Castillo: D

Note: I didn’t include Jonathan dos Santos who was injured for most of the season.