Fallout from Mexico's World Cup selection process
Despite the fact that the list was 12 months in the making, when Mexico's coach, Javier Aguirre, released his preliminary 17-man World Cup roster Tuesday, there were no shortages of surprises. Chief among them was the inclusion of goalkeeper Oscar Perez, who started for El Tri in the 2002 World Cup but hadn't played for Aguirre's team at all this season.
But more about that decision in a minute.
Among those left off the roster was midfielder Braulio Luna, a two-time World Cup veteran who played exceptionally well during Mexico's four-game "observation" stage.
"It's a sour taste," Luna told the Mexican newspaper Reforma. "We need to just try to get past it as soon as possible because we have responsibilities with our club, San Luis, and I'm going to try to clear my mind. It is complicated but at the end of the day we have to get over it.
"At no time did I feel secure. At no time did I feel set. It was the opposite."
But although Luna was clearly disappointed with the omission, he said he had no regrets. He took the high road, refusing to criticize Aguirre or the selection process.
"It could be that I did not do enough ... but I tried to put forth the best of myself as a soccer player and as a person," he told the newspaper. "What I can say is that I felt good, not just on the field but off it in terms of being part of the group, of the camaraderie. I clicked with everyone so I did well in the things I believe in."
Luna wasn't the only one stunned to find out he would be watching the World Cup on TV. The news also came as a surprise to longtime national squad teammate Cuauhtémoc Blanco, who was among those invited to training camp with Aguirre later this month.
"I was surprised that Braulio wasn't there," Blanco told reporters. "He was playing well. But you have to respect the decision of the coach. And not talk about it.
"A lot of other people were also surprised Braulio isn't there. He's done well with San Luis, with the national team. But that's how it is."
Now back to Perez, who was chosen over Jonathan Orozco and José de Jesús Corona. Orozco played well during Mexico's early exhibitions this year but not well enough to unseat backup Luis Ernesto Michel. Perez, meanwhile, got the third spot for his experience, and Corona -- considered a lock for the roster a few months ago -- was left home, owing mostly to off-the-field problems that included charges stemming from a scuffle outside a Guadalajara bar.
"It hurts because it's an objective I didn't achieve, a dream that didn't become reality," Corona said in a news conference. "I'm a professional. I've been clear that those who made the team are the best, and I simply have to support them in everything."
-- Kevin Baxter
Photo: Braulio Luna, No. 7, was left off Mexico's World Cup team roster. Luna and Bolivia's defender Nicolas Suarez, No. 16, fight for the ball during the first half of a match at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on Feb. 24, 2010. Mexico defeated Bolivia 5-0. Credit: Jason O. Watson / US Presswire