Mexico suffered a blow when Giovani dos Santos had to leave camp, but the injury that will hurt the Mexican team the most came Tuesday.
Jose Juan "Gallito" Vazquez, the little rooster who patrols the midfield and keeps attacks from reaching Mexico's back line, couldn't get back from thigh and calf issues and has left Mexico. In being forced out of camp, Gallito forces interim manager Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti to consider exactly what he'll do when Saturday comes.
El Tri already is somewhat beat up with Andres Guardado and Rafa Marquez entering after missing significant time between the September friendly matches and arriving in Mexico City to train ahead of Saturday's showdown. But those players could still see the pitch at the Rose Bowl. Dos Santos and Vazquez are totally out.
Ferretti not calling in Gio or his brother in September may have been silly, but it showed Mexico doesn't need the LA Galaxy attacker. Is he a bonus? Absolutely. The skills and change of pace he brings up top will be missed. With forwards Carlos Vela, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Raul Jimenez struggling to find their form in Europe, there's a chance Dos Santos could've won a starting job. Instead, he'll be watching the match, presumably from the stands since he now lives in the same metropolitan area where it is being played.
Even so, Mexico has a number of attackers who can fill Dos Santos' spot. Vela and Hernandez have shaken off club rust to score before and Jimenez and Oribe Peralta bring different attributes off the bench. Dos Santos will be missed, but he's replaceable. Who will fill Gallito's role?
Dos Santos' brother, Jonathan, played well enough to displace Galltio during this summer's Gold Cup. Dos Santos is a superb central midfielder who can match the high level of passing accuracy Gallito brings to the Mexican midfield. What he can't bring is the steel and defensive ability the Leon man has. That worked out alright in Miguel Herrera's system that had three center backs sitting behind Dos Santos, but with Marquez a question mark Ferretti might have been hoping to put Hector Moreno and Diego Reyes next to each other without a third center back.
Even in a 5-3-2, as Mexico played in September's 2-2 draw against Argentina, Gallito sat right in front of Marquez. In addition to his three tackles, he had the best passing accuracy percentage of any player who attempted more than three passes with more than 87 percent hitting their mark and also took a couple of fouls. It was exactly the type of glue guy El Tri needed against a strong attacking opponent.
The U.S. won't present quite the attacking threat Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero did, but the attack does have experience and will be eager to challenge the middle of the Mexican defense if Marquez indeed is there. That alone, combined with the substitute options, will make Gallito's absence one felt much more by Mexico than that of Dos Santos.