Javier Guemez (pictured) is expected to play a key role in Mexico's midfield during the 2015 Copa America. (Photo: Mexsport)
VIÑA DEL MAR, Chile -- He doesn’t say much. And when he does, his sentences are short and to the point. Javier Guemez prefers to speak with his feet. Sometimes with his head and, more often than not, his entire body.
Guemez is a player who likes to leave everything on the pitch. He fights for every ball, full speed. He’s not afraid to jump for a tough header or even dive head first at an opponent’s feet. At least that’s what the 23-year-old from Culiacan showed playing with his last team, Club Tijuana in the Liga MX. It earned him the nickname “Kamikaze.”
“You have to play with everything you have and not look back,” Guemez said before being called to coach Miguel Herrera’s Copa America roster and prior to being transferred to Club America during Mexico’s transfer window earlier this month. “You have to make the best of your opportunities and that’s what I do each game no matter what I have to do.”
The feisty midfielder will have the chance to display his gutsy style for the first time in an official competition while wearing the Tricolor jersey. He is expected to see time in the team’s South American championship opener against Group A rival Bolivia on Friday.
Guemez gives Mexico an aggressive defensive midfielder. Herrera liked his style enough to insert him into the starting line-up most recently in Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Brazil in a friendly.
The Mexicans have experienced previous success in the Copa America, reaching the 1993 and 2001 finals before falling to Argentina and Colombia, respectively.
Herrera is hoping his squad can do one better this time. After all, the 47-year-old built his roster specifically for this tournament, while creating another for the CONCACAF Gold Cup next month.
“I see a very strong, unified and mindful team,” Herrera said. “That is what we are looking for. We had a good practice (Wednesday). We asked everything out of our players and they gave it all. That tells me that they are all ready, waiting for the opportunity to be part of the 11 that will represent us and come out, win and make history in the Copa America.”
But despite having two squads in two different competitions, Herrera made it clear there is no such thing as a “B” team.
“We need to explain to people that we have two tournaments,” he continued. “Mexico is the only national team in the world with the chance to play in two Confederations, the Copa America and Gold Cup. The players that are here have the same vision to try and win (the cup) and that is our goal.”
It is also Guemez’ objective. He knows that he will be under Herrera’s watchful eye, the same as he was when he played for Club Tijuana. He earned a starting position in a short span after arriving there during the 2013 Apertura and getting called to his first national team camp in late 2014 for friendlies against Honduras and Panama.
“I plan to play with all seriousness in whatever situation I am in,” Guemez finished. “You play for your country and for yourself. You just have to play with everything you have.”
And for Guemez, it means using his head or any other available body part.