Mexico faced off against Bosnia & Herzegovina in San Antonio, Texas Thursday night, a game that ended in a 1-0 victory for Mexico. It was a game that Colombian manager Juan Carlos Osorio called up only MLS and Liga MX players, allowing these players to make a case for themselves as Mexico’s national team starts to take shape for this summers World Cup in Russia.
Here is five takeaways from Mexico’s victory.
1. Jonathan Gonzalez makes first appearance for Mexico.
First things first, Gonzalez makes his debut and gets his first cap for El Tri. The dual-national was sent on in the second half to claps and cheers from the San Antonio crowd. Getting his first touch immediately, he looked comfortable in the midfield, playing with Carlos Vela and Jorge “Burrito” Hernandez. It’s a very small sample size, but at 19-years-old, the future looks bright for the Rayados midfielder. Showcasing his ball handling skills and finding space easily, he’s a player to watch whether he gets called up to Russia 2018 or not.
2. This felt about as CONCACAF as a match can get.
This didn’t feel as Mexico were playing a European team. Mexico dominated ball possession, while Bosnia & Herzegovina did their best to defend. The dirty tackles, the porous midfield, and defense of B&H was akin to something a CONCACAF rival. The official lost control of the game at times and should have punished Mexican Midfielder Jorge “Burrito” Hernandez, not to mention the nasty tackle by Dino Besirovic on Jonathan Gonzalez. Thankfully no one on either side picked up a serious injury.
3. Forward Henry Martin needs to do better.
The America forward made great runs, passes, and had good hold-up play in the first half for Mexico. The problem is it didn’t lead to any goals. It’s especially disappointing when he squandered the great cross that Elias Hernandez sent in from the right side in the first half. In his third call up, Henry seemed more nervous than Jonathan Gonzalez. In a Liga MX that has fewer Mexican strikers than ever, Henry Martin is an important piece for El Tri. He has the talent,and that’s been shown with his big move from Xolos de Tijuana to Club America. He deserves another call up to get a second look before the World Cup.
4. This game didn’t help decide the defense for Mexico.
Fringe players, especially on defense, tried to make their case to go to Russia 2018 the best they could, but only so much could be judged against a B&H side that didn’t attack very much. With European players such as Diego Reyes, Miguel Layun, Hector Moreno, and Carlos Salcedo almost locks to start as long as coach Osorio deems them fit enough, the spots for the back-ups is getting tough. Osorio likes Gallardo and Oswaldo Alanis a lot regardless of form, but it will be interesting to see who goes to Russia with Nestor Araujo, Edson Alvarez, and maybe even more in contention.
5. Giovani dos Santos wasn’t clicking with the team.
MLS-based players got their opportunity to make an impact before the World Cup. For starters, Carlos Vela for once actually looked fit and in form. He’s been training with LAFC and he looks more focused than ever. He was using his agility and ball control to drive the Mexico attack, while Jonathan dos Santos also looked good, creating chances in the final third.
But then there’s Giovani Dos Santos, who was praised by Juan Carlos Osorio on the lead up to this game, even placing the captain’s armband on him to start the game. He seemed position-less throughout the game, and perhaps it was because B&H were being aggressive in the midfield and that took him out of the game. One thing is certain, though, he will probably go to Russia because a player with his immense talent is too good to leave off the team. He will have to do better.
What do you think? What stuck out the most for you in this match?