New players integrate with El Tri
By Ivan Orozco

HOUSTON - They entered the Methodist Training Center next to Reliant Stadium Tuesday to a wave of sparkling camera flashes and a herd of reporters.

Hector Reynoso, Paul Aguilar and Hiram Mier, Mexico's trio of roster replacements, were the center of attention to a throng of news media a day before El Tri's Gold Cup semifinal against Honduras.

"We are here to make things complicated for El Chepo," Aguilar said, referring to the nickname of Mexico's coach Jose Manuel de la Torre.

In other words, they want to play.

The three had gone through their first training session with Mexico since being chosen as substitutes for Guillermo Ochoa, Franciso Rodriguez, Edgar Duenas, Antonio Nealson and Christian Bermudez, who were suspended earlier in the tournament after testing positive for a banned substance prior to the Gold Cup.

Luis Michel and Marco Fabian, who also were named but will join El Tri only in case of an emergency, flew with the under-22 team to Colombia on Monday in preparation for the Copa America.

De la Torre Chepo appears to have his lineup set for the rest of the tournament. The replacements perhaps will have a better chance at some playing time with the Copa America team coached by Luis Fernando Tena.

Sitting on the bench in the Gold Cup might not be their best opportunity to compete in a tournament this summer.

"The truth is that I haven't had time to think about negative things," said Reynoso, who is experiencing his first call up by the senior team. "I am here to take orders and wanting to work and be part of this group as I did with the under-22. I come to fulfill my dream and do what I know. My brothers welcomed me into the group and everything has gone well."

As for Mier, he is a 21-year-old who has impressed scouts and fans while playing for Mexican side Monterrey. He has 25 appearances in the first division since moving up from the club's youth program in 2010.

"I don't have a lot of experience playing in the first division but I am motivated," Mier said. "I think this is a squad that has done things right and that is also motivating."

Bringing in replacement players might not seem necessary for Mexico as it prepares to face Honduras Wednesday night in the semifinals. A win puts Mexico in the final Saturday, and the replacement players might not see action then either.

So, why bring them in?

"This was already planned," De la Torre Chepo said. "We couldn't just sit around. There are two games left and you could face any situation. They are here to integrate with the team and they have the capacity to help with whatever situation is presented."

Media spies on Mexico training

Mexico's training session Tuesday morning was closed to the media. Team officials tried their best to deter reporters and camera crews from catching a glimpse of what went on next to the training bubble at the Methodist Training Center.

Team officials will have to do better next time. A reporter asked De la Torre why his team had practiced penalty kicks.

El Chepo smiled and briefly shook his head before answering.

"You guys peeked," he said. "You saw us practice PKs. It was supposed to be a closed session. You invaded our space. We practiced them because they could be necessary."