Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio has received plenty of criticism for not calling his full-strength roster for friendlies against New Zealand and Panama. But against weaker opponents, one of which Mexico will face next month in World Cup qualifying, Osorio has opted to call in a few fresh faces and several players looking to get back into the national team frame. For more than two, this represents a genuine opportunity at winning their place in next month’s roster when Mexico travel to Colombus, Ohio to take on the United States.
Here are five Mexican players with the most to prove to Juan Carlos Osorio in their upcoming friendlies:
It’s not a secret Juan Carlos Osorio likes to have his fair share of tall forwards in his team. Osorio has often deployed Raul Jimenez on the right wing, and most recently, Angel Sepulveda and Angel Zaldivar both played a part for El Tri in their recent World Cup qualifiers.
Alan Pulido looks to be very much in the mold of forwards Juan Carlos Osorio likes. While Pulido doesn’t draw himself out to the wing like a Raul Jimenez or Angel Sepulveda, he has looked particularly active in his first few games at Chivas in Matias Almeyda’s new-look 4-4-2.
Of course, Pulido is only making his return to El Tri after a long legal dispute against Tigres marred his career in recent years. Beyond impressing Osorio, a good performance would be a statement to many in Liga MX who lobbied against him.
Jonathan dos Santos
It is no secret the defensive midfielder position is one of the big question marks for El Tri heading into the latter stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying process. But whether Juan Carlos Osorio sees Jonathan dos Santos as suitable for that position remains to be seen. For one reason or another, Jonathan dos Santos has not been part of El Tri’s recent call-ups, and from all we know, Osorio sees Jonathan as an interior midfielder and not a defensive one. In that regard, where Osorio decides to play Jonathan in these next two friendlies will be telling.
As technique goes, Jonathan dos Santos is one of the brighter midfielders in Mexico’s squad, and even if Osorio uses him on the right-hand side, it is not like Hector Herrera has looked sharp in recent games. For Jonathan, this call-up can be a win-win, and as long as he stays healthy, he is more than capable of becoming a regular in Juan Carlos Osorio’s team.
Update: Unfortunately for Jona, he picked up a muscle injury in training which will keep him out from both friendlies.
Marco Fabian recently confessed that without tacos and tortas he is in the best shape of his life. While that might sound a tad humorous to a few, his latest performances certainly vouch for him and his new German diet. Fabian has recently been on a tear for Eintracht Frankfurt, scoring twice and notching two assists in four league games for the Bundesliga side.
With Juan Carlos Osorio favorite, Carlos Alberto “Gullit” Peña, struggling to get minutes at Chivas, one of the midfield positions could be up for the taking for Marco Fabian. As ever, though, questions of consistency have always gone hand in hand with Marco Fabian. If he can replicate his current club form on the international level, he will only be doing himself a big favor in the eyes of the coach and many El Tri fans.
Jorge Torres Nilo
With so many players dropped for this game, it remains a debate as to why Jorge Torres Nilo has kept a place in the team. Torres Nilo has arguably been Mexico’s worst performer in recent games and has inspired zero confidence at left back.
Sure, Juan Carlos Osorio now has the problem of Paul Aguilar’s injury, which means Miguel Layun will likely start on the right. As an odds-on favorite to start at left back against the United States on November 11, Torres Nilo needs some resilience restored and it better happen in these next two games.
Giovani dos Santos
This one is a no-brainer. For all the criticism Giovani received for his move to the LA Galaxy, he is back with El Tri once again. Before the “Tecatito” days, you got the feeling that if there was one player in El Tri that could do something out of nothing it was Giovani. Now, Gio has matured into a different type of player but has kept certain elements to his game that can help him win a place back in the national team.
It almost seems like ages ago, but this is a forward that was starting over the likes of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez two years ago at the 2014 World Cup. One thing Miguel Herrera liked about starting Giovani was his ability to attract defenders in and around the box. If Juan Carlos Osorio sees Giovani in a similar role, the Galaxy forward has all the tools to flourish.
Like his younger brother, however, we don’t know what position Juan Carlos Osorio finds him best at. One thing is for certain, this is an opportunity Giovani can’t afford to waste.