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Marquez closer to 5th World Cup after making preliminary Mexico squad

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Defender Rafael Marquez could play in a fifth World Cup after he was picked in Mexico’s 28-player preliminary squad on Monday.

Midfielder Andres Guardado, however, one of the three captains, will go through surgery this week and is a doubt for the team.

If 39-year-old Marquez makes the final 23-man list, he will join countryman Antonio Carvajal, Lothar Matthaeus of Germany and Gianluigi Buffon of Italy as the only players to be in five World Cups.

Mexico will announce its final squad on June 4.

“We believe there is room for Rafael to help,” coach Juan Carlos Osorio said. “There is a mental part, in which experience and leadership allows playing in tough moments of world-class matches, and doing it with the same ease, leadership and criteria that only Rafa could.”

Marquez was Mexico’s captain in the last four World Cups and is expected to retire after Russia. He hasn’t played for the national team since the Confederations Cup last year.

Guardado, who shares Mexico’s captaincy when goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa or Marquez is absent, will have surgery on Wednesday. Osorio said he expects to count on the Real Betis player for the World Cup.

Osorio said Erick Gutierrez could be Guardado’s replacement. The Pachuca midfielder did not take part in World Cup qualifying, and did not play in the Confederations Cup either.

“Erick is a natural box-to-box midfielder who is a lefty, like Andres (Guardado). We think he will be his replacement in the future,” Osorio said.

Osorio also said four players have injuries, and that forced him to pick 28. The other players in doubt were Nestor Araujo, Reyes, and siblings Jonathan and Giovani Dos Santos.

“I am not a medical specialist, but if the World Cup began tomorrow those five could not be in it,” then coach said.

A noted absence in the squad was striker Rodolfo Pizarro, who was in great form with local giant Chivas.

Mexico’s Marquez linked to drug trafficking ring

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In terms of bombshell stories, this is one for the ages.

Atlas defender and Mexican soccer legend Rafa Marquez is one of 22 people sanctioned by the United States Treasury as part of a drug trafficking ring.

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The former Barcelona, New York Red Bulls, and Monaco defender is linked to Raul Flores Hernandez, who himself “has links to two major Mexican drug cartels” according to Bloomberg.

U.S. officials allege that Marquez and Mexican singer Julion Alvarez have longstanding relationships with Flores Hernandez and provided fronts for him and his drug organization.

Serious business, to be sure. The sanctions mean frozen American assets for Marquez and the others, and certainly could just be the tip of a disciplinary iceberg.

Marquez is Juan Carlos Osorio’s captain with the Mexican national team, and has 143 caps. Surely there’s plenty to come in this eyebrow-raising news story.

VIDEO: VAR gives Portugal a penalty, Ochoa bails out Marquez

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Rafa Marquez chopped down Andre Silva in the 18, and Video Assistant Referee made sure the Mexican defender gave away a penalty kick.

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Marquez was given yellow for the takedown, as he kicked Silva’s knee. The new AC Milan attacker took the pen with Cristiano Ronaldo away from the team, but Guillermo Ochoa dove low and right to slap the ball wide of the frame.

Portugal then headed the ensuing corner over the frame, and the match remained scoreless in the 18th minute. This was VAR at its best. though there are plenty of counter examples from this 2017 Confederations Cup.

Rafa Marquez, Erick “Cubo” Torres included on Mexico preliminary Gold Cup squad

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The Mexican National Team can’t seem to move on from the Rafa Marquez era.

The 38-year-old centerback was named by the Mexican Football Federation to El Tri’s 40-man preliminary squad for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. If he plays, it would be the fifth time he has played in a Gold Cup.

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Most of the squad consists of players based in Mexico’s Liga MX, with the top stars of the league as well as Mexico’s European-based players all called in for the Confederations Cup roster in Russia this month. The lone exception to the Liga MX party is the Houston Dynamo’s Erick “Cubo” Torres, who has 10 goals in 14 games with 12 starts so far this season, good for second-best in the league.

Notable inclusions in the preliminary squad are Tigres’ Jurgen Damm, who has been long linked to a move to England and Pachuca’s Hirving Lozano. Orbelin Pineda, one of Chivas’ breakout stars this past season who led the club to the Clausura title, is also in the squad and has been rumored to be a Valencia target.

While the squad isn’t made up of the top players, it should serve as a great chance for the Mexico National Team staff and its coach Juan Carlos Osorio to evaluate the player pool ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Mexico is hoping to improve on its Round of 16 exit from the 2014 World Cup.

Here’s a look at the Mexico preliminary Gold Cup squad:

(more…)

Marquez hopes win helps Mexican spirits after Trump election

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Mexico captain Rafa Marquez started his evening in a show of solidarity with American players, but and finished it not just with his match-winner, but with comments aimed at supporting Mexicans in the United States.

President-elect Donald Trump made waves with controversial and anti-Mexican statements during the United States presidential campaign, which he won on Tuesday.

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In addition to saying that he’d build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and force Mexico to pay for it, he described a group of Mexican immigrants as “not their best” people.

So while Marquez refrained from going all-out against Trump after heading in the match-winner of a 2-1 win over the United States, he acknowledged the week that was for the many people of Mexican heritage inside and beyond the borders of the U.S.

From The Guardian:

“I don’t know about bad time, but a time of intolerance,” Márquez said after the match of Trump’s incendiary comments.

“But now, with this win [Mexicans] can forget a little bit about what happened here in the United States.

“It was a long time that we haven’t had a good game here. We are very happy and this is very important for us. It was the best opportunity to change the story here and tonight was what we had hoped for in the last couple of days.”

Mexico next heads to Panama with a chance to score a pristene six road points from its first two matches. Panama won Friday in Honduras by a 1-0 score.