LA Galaxy’s Julian Araujo named in Mexico squad for crucial World Cup qualifiers

LA Galaxy right-back Julian Araujo has been named in Mexico‘s men’s national team 30-man roster for their crucial World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica (Jan. 27), Costa Rica (Jan. 30) and Panama (Feb. 2).

Several high-profile regulars like Raul Jimenez, Guillermo Ochoa and Andres Guardado also feature in the squad announced on Thursday.

Initially representing the United States at youth level, Araujo was a member of the provisional 2021 Gold Cup roster for the senior U.S. squad before announcing in October 2021 that he had switched to Mexico.

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His debut for El Tri came in December during a 2-2 friendly against Chile that showcased several newcomers and less regular starters.

Mexico are coming off of consecutive losses to the United States and Canada in CONCACAF’s Octagonal round of World Cup qualifying.

Gerardo Arteaga, who was reportedly left out for months due to previously turning down a call-up from manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino, is back in the fold thanks to his noteworthy run with Genk in the Belgian top flight. The 23-year-old has excelled abroad as a left-back and will add depth to a position that has beena a struggle for El Tri.

Erick Gutierrez is also returning to Mexico’s squad after stepping up as a key figure for PSV Eindhoven manager Roger Schmidt.

Real Betis winger Diego Lainez is back in Martino’s squad for the first time since the qualifiers began. Lainez has found limited playing time with Betis but he has scored two goals for the LaLiga side since December.

Mexico’s away match against Jamaica on Jan. 27 is set to be played behind closed doors. The following two World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica on Jan. 30 and Panama Feb. 2 will be at home in the Estadio Azteca.

In order to test out new fan behavior protocols, the Azteca will have a limited capacity crowd of 2,000. Earlier this week, the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) announced that any fans partaking in the anti-gay goalkeeper chant at games hosted by the FMF will face a five-year ban.

Mexico sit at 3rd in the Octagonal table, level on 14 points with Panama in fourth place and two points behind leaders Canada. After the end of the upcoming three-game run and the final qualifying window in March, the top three teams in the Octagonal will earn a direct spot into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The fourth place team will take part in a playoff round match against the winner from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) region.

Mexico Squad

Goalkeepers: Rodolfo Cota (Leon), Guillermo Ochoa (Club America), Jonathan Orozco (Club Tijuana), Alfredo Talavera (Pumas)

Defenders: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Nestor Araujo (Celta Vigo), Gerardo Arteaga (Genk), Julio Cesar Dominguez (Cruz Azul), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey), Cesar Montes (Monterrey), Hector Moreno (Monterrey), Luis Rodriguez (Tigres), Osvaldo Rodriguez (Leon), Jorge Sanchez (Club America), Johan Vasquez (Genoa)

Midfielders: Edson Alvarez (Ajax), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Erick Gutierrez (PSV), Hector Herrera (Atletico Madrid), Orbelin Pineda (Celta Vigo), Carlos Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Luis Romo (Monterrey)

Forwards: Diego Lainez (Real Betis), Uriel Antuna (Cruz Azul), Jesus Corona (Sevilla), Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey), Raul Jimenez (Wolverhampton), Hirving Lozano (Napoli), Henry Martin (Club America), Alexis Vega (Chivas)