Raul Jimenez ready to shoulder the load for Mexico this summer

The Wolves forward will be getting significant minutes during the Gold Cup but says he’s excited to be Tata Martino’s starting No. 9

Some people are not excited about this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup. Some of those people are even Mexico national team players.

Or, at least, they would be if they showed up. World Cup veterans like Carlos Vela and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona have decided to put their focus elsewhere, while Hector Herrera and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez have more excused absences, but nevertheless are not part of the squad. 

Raul Jimenez is not one of those people. Raul Jimenez is very much here for this.

The Wolves forward is the Mexican player coming off the most successful season abroad, scoring a baker’s dozen of goals in the Premier League and adding four more in the FA Cup. Yet while other players have been looking for excuses to stay at home this summer, the 28-year-old cannot wait for the ball to get rolling at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

“It’s going to be very special for me,” Jimenez said after the 3-2 win over Ecuador on Sunday. “It’s going to be a very good opportunity to show Mexico, to show the world. who I am. I’m proud of being part of the Mexico attack, and I want to show who I am.”

Plenty of Mexico fans are already familiar with Jimenez, but this will be the first tournament at which he can really shine. Long stuck in the shadow of Chicharito, Mexico’s all-time leading scorer, there is no question Jimenez is the leader this time around. He was the only player to start both Mexico’s pre-tournament friendly matches and is clearly a player coach Tata Martino will depend on this summer.

While Martino has been able to adapt to the rash of injuries (and withdrawals) that have dogged his team’s preparations for the Concacaf championship, losing Jimenez would create a crisis up front for which Martino would have no easy answer.

“Raul is one of the most important forwards in the Premier League and we have the fortune of having him in the national team,” Martino said at a news conference last week. “What he’s done in the last several years is to transform into one of the most important players and most quality attackers the Mexican national team has.”

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