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 5th 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.

May 13, 2014
The Big Verde Weekly Update: Piojo’s extra 7, Blanco, and bus slogans.

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(Wouldn’t it be really funny if the slogan was actually “Your slogan will be on the National Team Bus”)

It may not be news to you, but it was definitely news to me because I voted for the right slogan! Hyundai, in an effort to sell more cars and create brand familiarity with soccer fans, had a slogan competition for the national team buses in Brazil.

The idea was that fans would get to vote for one of three slogans that would be placed on the respective team bus in Brazil. Mexico’s will be “Siempre unidos…siempre aztecas!” In English, for you non-Spanish speaking friends, it translates to “Always united…always aztecas!” Kinda cool.

Although here are a few other favorites of mine from other squads:

Japan - Samurai, the time has come to fight!
France - Impossible is not a French Word.
Holland - Real men wear orange.
Australia - Socceroos: Hopping our way into history!

In other news, Piojo has also listed his seven “back-up” players that will probably create voodoo dolls for the other 23 so that they can possibly sneak in. The seven are: Moises Muñoz, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Miguel Ponce, Miguel Herrera (from Pachuca), Javier Aquino, Jesus Alonso Escoboza, and Aldo de Nigris.

Also, to wrap things up, Cuauhtemoc Blanco has just signed with Puebla and might make a guest appearance in Mexico’s game against Israel this month. You heard me right.

Updates

-It’s all over for Chicharito…probably. The striker only came on for about 22 minutes against Southampton and couldn’t produce much from the time that he was given. Chicharito will the end the season with only nine goals for Manchester United, his worst since joining the club (2010-2011: 20, 2011-2012: 12, 2012-2013: 18). If any player will be motivated to do well in the World Cup, it will be Chicharito. He will more than likely be looking for a new club during the summer and an impressive showing at the World Cup will only boost his value. Southampton 1-1 Manchester United.

-Carlos Vela ended his season with Real Sociedad scoring a career-high 16 goals. Vela had a ridiculous stretch of nine games where he either scored or had an assist in eight of them. Vela will of course be missing the World Cup but will be one of six Mexicanos that will be in the Europa League next season. Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Real Sociedad.

-Hector Moreno, another boring game another tie for Espanyol. With nothing to play for and no danger of being relegated, Espanyol have now gone seven games without a win. Although it is La Liga competition, I would imagine that Moreno is getting tired of his current squad and probably eager to join Mexico for the World Cup. Maybe even eager to join another team that doesn’t settle for the Spanish mid-table…Espanyol 1-1 Osasuna.

-Giovani dos Santos was excellent during the 45 minutes that he played for Villarreal. Gio was dangerous going forward and almost scored off of two opportunities in the first half. One of which was a beautiful chip that would have definitely been added to a “Gio highlight reel.” Javier Aquino came on as a sub early in the first half and assisted Villarreal’s second goal through another cross that he seems to be perfecting. Villarreal 4-0 Rayo Vallecano. I guess if I’m talking Rayo, I need to bring up Nery Castillo. Rumor has it that the striker has finished his career with the squad and that the team is looking to transfer him this summer.

-Hector Herrera and Diego Reyes both started in their last game of the season for FC Porto. Porto are now guaranteed a spot in the Europa League and it will be very exciting to see both players in that competition next season. Both players have somewhat become regulars for the squad and it will have hopefully prepared them enough for Brazil this summer. I also now have unrealistic expectations when it comes to expecting great goals from Herrera. FC Porto 2-1 Benfica.

-Andres Guardado could have ended this season differently. He wasn’t given very many chances but he was still given some for Bayer Leverkusen. Guardado failed to impress the squad and was underwhelming for a player of his skill and experience. His decision to go to Germany was risky but still his own. Bayer will undoubtedly send him back to Valencia after the summer. He can still find a bit of resurgence if he does well in the World Cup but it will be very difficult for him to find time against the likes of Miguel Layun in defense and the hundred other midfielders that are quicker and better than him. He has made it very clear that he doesn’t want to go back to Mexico but perhaps like Rafa, this is the exact thing that his career currently needs. He was given no playing time during Bayer Leverkusen’s 2-1 win against Werder Bremen.

-Guillermo Ochoa had another impressive game for AC Ajaccio. Ochoa had eight shots against him on target and was able to stop seven coming his way. Ajaccio went on to win the game, which was only their fourth so far this season. Where Ochoa will go next season will be anyone’s guess. Like other Mexicanos, a good World Cup will open up his opportunities as well. Ajaccio 2-1 Reims.

-Jesus “Tecatito” Corona finished his season in early May and will also have the Europa League to look forward to. He probably wont change teams this summer and I really hope he gets some more playing time and notoriety by next year.

-Jonathan Espericueta left early from Villarreal B in order to take part in Mexico’s U-21 squad for the Toulon tournament in France. CF Reus Deportiu 2-1 Villarreal B.

-Anibal Zurdo can’t stop scoring. Zurdo had his 17th goal of the season and helped lead Sabadell to a victory over Barcelona B. Zurdo hasn’t mentioned being interested in a call-up to Mexico and after the World Cup it would be interesting to see what he has to offer. Sabadell 2-1 Barcelona B.

-Ulises Davila played sixty minutes during their 2-1 loss against Zaragoza.

-Partick Thistle are safe from relegation which means that Gabriel Piccolo will probably have another season to play in the Scottish Premiership. Piccolo played the first half during their loss to Ross County. Partick Thistle 2-3 Ross County.

International player of the week: Anibal Zurdo

Games (pacific standard time)

Saturday, May 17th 2014

7:00 a.m. - Espanyol @ Real Madrid - La Liga

9:00 a.m. - Atletico Madrid @ Barcelona- La Liga

11:00 a.m. - Sabadell @ Zaragoza - Segunda Division

Noon - Ajaccio @ St. Etienne - Ligue 1

——-

Sunday, May 18th 2014

3:00 a.m. - Villarreal @ Real Sociedad - La Liga

8:00 a.m. - Cordoba @ Tenerife - Segunda Division

9:00 a.m. - Getafe @ Rayo Vallecano - La Liga

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That’s it for now. Tune in next week where I will give overall grades for all of the Europeos this season!

May 9, 2014
EL TRI ANNOUNCES 23 MAN ROSTER FOR BRAZIL

Jesus Corona
Guillermo Ochoa
Alfredo Talavera

Paul Aguilar
Andres Guardado
Miguel Layun
Rafael Marquez
Hector Moreno
Diego Reyes
Maza Rodriguez
Carlos Salcido

Isaac Brizuela
Marco Fabian
Hector Herrera
Juan Carlos Medina
Gallo Vazquez
Luis Montes
Carlos Pena

Giovani dos Santos
Chicharito
Raul Jimenez
Oribe Peralta
Alan Pulido

May 5, 2014
The Big Verde Weekly Update: Piojo’s final roster, another Herrera goal, and Anibal Zurdo’s 16th.


(Pictured: Somebody much better at soccer than I am)

If the World Cup matters to you (if it doesn’t, why are you reading my blog?), May 9th will be a significant day. What exactly is happening on May 9th? Well, my uninformed friend, that is the day that Piojo releases his final roster for the World Cup!

You’ll see all your favorites…maybe. There is still a chance that Giovani dos Santos will miss out or that guy with the hair from the Allstate commercials as well. So what’s the deal? Why is this happening?

For better or worse, Piojo was chosen as coach of the Mexican national team late last year. A very unenviable position. While I understand his lack of time and his desire to chose the players that work with his system, he may sacrifice a few good players for Brazil. Members of Piojo’s staff have even mentioned that there might be players chosen that most don’t like and players left out that many do really like.

Either way, keep an eye (and web browser) open on Friday for the final list.

Updates

-Chicharito was finally given his first start in the EPL since April 5th but was unable to score. Chich had one excellent opportunity on net but had a bad touch and sent ball far too high against the Sunderland goal. It still appears as though Chicharito will be leaving this summer and a great World Cup will open up his options abroad. Manchester United 0-1 Sunderland.

-Carlos Vela now has 15 goals with Real Sociedad, which is the most amount of goals that he has scored yet in a season abroad. He also has 11 assists as well which is another personal record for him. I would continue talking about him but I might start crying the more I think about the fact that he wont be joining us this Summer. Real Sociedad 1-1 Granada.

-Giovani dos Santos is back in full health and had an excellent game against Sevilla. Gio was a constant threat against Sevilla and was by far Villarreal’s best player on the pitch. He also almost helped create a fantastic goal that was squandered at the last second by Mateo Musacchio. Off a free kick, Gio decided to make a diagonal pass, which then lead to to two other short passes and then a cross back into the middle of the box. The play looked like something out of a backyard game. However, the beautiful setup ended when Musacchio just missed the net with his shot. Javier Aquino came on as a late sub but couldn’t contribute much to the game. Villarreal now have a spot guaranteed for the Europa League next season. Sevilla 0-0 Villarreal.

-Hector Herrera scored a rocket of a volley over the weekend. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is. Geez. Do you realize what you just saw? That was Herrera literally kicking away any competition that he had in front of him for the national team. The goal was Herrera’s second in his last three games with Porto. Diego Reyes also played all 90 minutes of the game. Olhanense 2-1 Porto

-Andres Guardado came on as a last minute substitute for Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday. Guardado’s season is all but over for Bayer as he struggled to make an impact on the squad. Bayer have luckily started winning once again and can still at least guarantee themselves a spot in Champions League qualifying with just a win next weekend. As for Guardado, we will all see if Piojo decides to call him up or not this Friday. Unfortunately for him, he wouldn’t be missed too much if he were left out. Frankfurt 0-2 Bayer Leverkusen.

-Hector Moreno had an average game against Valladolid but it was at least on par with the rest of his Espanyol squad. With nothing to really play for, Espanyol have only won one game in their last nine. Espanyol still have two more games this season, against Osasuna, and a squad named Real Madrid. Never heard of them. Valladolid 1-0 Espanyol.

-There was only one shot on net against Guillermo Ochoa, but sadly enough, it went in. If you look at the replay, you could actually see Ochoa pointing to the forward that scored just seconds away before receiving the cross that lead to the goal. A huge question mark looms over Ochoa’s head before Friday. Will he still go to Brazil if he isn’t the #1 keeper? Will he still be taken anyways? Lorient 1-0 Ajaccio.

-Jesus “Tecatito” Corona was left out of FC Twente’s lineup. I have yet to find any info regarding as to why the decision was made. Either way, if he remains with the squad after the summer, we may see him playing in the Europa League next season now that Twente are officially in. Twente 2-2 PEC Zwolle.

-Jonathan Espericueta played a total of 28 minutes against Gimnastic over the weekend. Villarreal B 1-2 Gimnastic.

-Gabriel Piccolo came on during the 44th minute of the Partick Thistle vs Hibernian match. I believe this is the first time all season that Piccolo was subbed in, he has either played all 90 or just sat out in every other game. Hibernian 1-1 Partick Thistle.

-Ulises Davila scored against Barcelona…B! Davila now has five goals for Cordoba this season. Call him up Piojo! On second thought, don’t do it. Here is the goal (fast forward to 3:30). Barcelona 0-1 Cordoba.

-Anibal Zurdo also scored! Sorry Carlos Vela, but the Mexicano with the most goals in Europe right now is Zurdo with 16. I guarantee Vela will score a hat-trick next weekend now. Mirandes 2-2 Sabadell.

-Nery Castillo. Probably playing more soccer through FIFA 14 than with Rayo Vallecano. Good news for Rayo though, they are officially safe from relegation!

International player of the week: Hector Herrera, just because of that awesome goal.

Games (pacific standard time)

Today, May 6th 2014

11:45 a.m. - Hull City @ Manchester United - EPL

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Wednesday, May 7th 2014

11:45 a.m. - Partick Thistle @ Heart of Midlothian - Scottish Premiership

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Friday, May 9th 2014

Whenever he feels like it o’clock - Piojo’s final 23 roster announcement!

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Saturday, May 10th 2014

6:30 a.m. - Werder Bremen @ Bayer Leverkusen - Bundesliga

11:00 a.m. - Rayo Vallecano @ Villarreal - La Liga

11:00 a.m. - Barcelona B @ Sabadell - Segunda Division

Noon - Stade Reims @ Ajaccio - Ligue 1

——-

Sunday, May 11th 2014 

3:00 a.m. - Real Zaragoza @ Cordoba -Segunda Division

7:00 a.m. - Manchester United @ Southampton - EPL

8:00 a.m. - Real Sociedad @ Athletic Bilbao - La Liga

8:00 a.m. - Benfica @ FC Porto - Primeira Liga

9:00 a.m. - Villarreal B @ Reus Deportiu - Segunda Division B Group III

10:00 a.m. - Osasuna @ Espanyol - La Liga

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

April 28, 2014
The Big Verde Weekly Update: No update! I’m on vacation!

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(Sorry Mr. President, can’t talk. I’m too busy having fun!)

Alright, so I’m not on vacation. I’m actually still at home working on my first beer and third slice of pizza.

The Liga MX Liguilla is upon us which means that I have been swamped with work recently. Not to worry though, I will be back next week with your usual dose of irreverent news from El Tri and players abroad.

Fine, I’ll give you a quickest of quick updates about what happened this weekend through a sentence for each player:

Chicharito - No goals but at least he got some playing time and a new coach.

Gio - Back from injury, decent game, but it was against Barcelona.

Aquino - Assist against Barcelona but Villarreal still lost.

Herrera - Played all ninety but Porto lost to Benfica in Taca da Portugal.

Reyes - Sat on the bench for Porto.

Tecatito - Hey, he finally scored again for Twente.

Moreno - Returned from injury but Espanyol lost.

Guardado - Still injured?

Ochoa - Can’t stop Berbatov.

Espericueta - Hey, he scored too!

Piccolo - No playing time.

Zurdo - Not sure

Davila - And also not sure.