Mexico and Argentina’s U-22 teams tied again in their second friendly of the FIFA break. Once again the game was filled with fouls and fights, and this time the game ended with a 1-1 score. Coach Jaime Lozano made 10 changes to the starting lineup, and it really hurt the team who, unlike the more balanced game in Ciudad Juarez, were clearly dominated, especially in the second half. Mexico took advantage of the altitude in Pachuca and improved in the second half but never really dominated, and the draw was a fair result that could have even flattered them.
The first half of the game started with Mexico having only one starter (Aldo Cruz) from their previous match against Argentina on Saturday. Mexico changed in every part of the field, even in goalkeeper where Luis Malagon started instead of Sebastian Jurado, and Malagon proceeded to have a very weak performance. It didn’t take long for Argentina to pressure, as Malagon had to cut a cross a minute into the game.
A couple of minutes later in what should’ve been an easy play, Nahuel Bustos got a shot off that Malagon fumbled into a corner kick. Minutes later a look at things to come happened when Marcel Ruiz got brought down harshly by Argentina’s defenders.
Argentina continued to control the game, and once again came close to scoring when a cross just barely missed Bustos. Mexico had their first dangerous opportunity a minute later when a through ball almost found Ruiz, but Argentina’s keeper Facundo Cambeses got to it first. Argentina later on had their best chance when Brian Mansilla was able to get past the Mexican defense and had a wide open shot in the area, but his shot went well wide.
Mexico’s lineup was struggling and Argentina had complete control of the match. In the 36th minute, Fernando Valenzuela came close to scoring an “olimpico” goal from the corner kick that Malagon had to scramble to block. After a corner kick, Valenzuela had another great chance to score a goal but he couldn’t lob it over Malagon and it went wide.
It wasn’t until the 40th minute that Mexico finally had a shot on goal, when Pablo Lopez was able to get off a weak left footed shot from outside the area that went wide. The rest of the first half had Argentina controlling the ball while Mexico barely handled things.
The second half started and Mexico went into the attack for the first time in the game. Ricardo Angulo had the first real dangerous opportunity when his left footed shot surprised Cambeses, who had to dive to send the ball for a corner kick. Fernando Beltran took the corner kick and Luis Hernandez got to the ball and made a great header to shock Argentina and open the scoring for Mexico. It was a great set piece and a great goal for the Toluca defender.
Mexico seemed to improve as Argentina looked to perhaps fade in the altitude of Pachuca. Argentina though had a great chance when a wide open Valentin Castellanos was able to head his ball just wide from the post.
Argentina looked a little desperate, and thus subbed in their star forwards Adolfo Gaich (who was red carded in the prior game and under normal circumstances shouldn’t have been able to play this game) and Lucas Robertone. In the 66th minute, Malagon once again made a mistake as he came out for a cross that Argentina’s Tomas Belmonte headed wide. Two minutes later, Bustos had a long range shot that once again Malagon fumbled in what should’ve been an easy save.
Soon Argentina had evened out the game again and although Mexico had more possession than in the first half, they didn’t create much danger. In the 75th minute, Castellanos and Brayton Vasquez got into it and Malagon came up against Busto, which started another fight. Although not as bad as the fight in Ciudad Juarez, it did bring the game to a stop.
Four minutes later it was Brian Mansilla and Vladimir Loroña who got into it. Off Loroña’s foul came a free kick in which Argentina tied the game. A double mistake from Mexico allowed Belmonte to head in the equalizing goal. Belmonte had been allowed to head the ball in the area, and once again Malagon had been caught in no man’s land and the ball went in through the middle for the 1-1.
The game then turned into the typical chippy affair that had happened before in Ciudad Juarez. Neither team had a clear chance and the teams tied for the second time.
Mexico’s performance in both games was at most satisfactory. Argentina looked the better team in both games, especially in the second. Lozano’s move of having a completely different team allowed him to look at the players, but didn’t pay off at all. If the team had already been weakened by the U-23 players that were called up for the Concacaf Nations League, it was obviously not strong enough to have two squads for the friendlies against such a tough team as Argentina. Fans in the stands might have had a good time seeing the team not lose though, and its a good idea for the FMF to look at having these type of friendlies in venues where the National team doesn’t play in preparation for the Olympic qualifiers. With the Nations League once again taking place in the last FIFA dates of 2019 in November, nothing has come out of what’s on the horizon for the U-22 National team, but hopefully coach Lozano can keep working for the team because it has shown that there still a lot of work to be done before the Olympic qualifiers in Guadalajara.