Arguments could easily be made for and against the inclusion of the noteworthy stars, but would El Tri struggle to find success if the three players were left off the roster?
According to Friday night’s dominating 3-0 win over Canada, the short and simplified answer seems to be no.
Mexico was excellent in Vancouver in the World Cup qualifying win and didn’t seem to miss the three figures who have had vital roles with the team for numerous years. Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera collected a clean sheet and the attacking trio of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Jesus “Tecatito” Corona and Hirving Lozano all contributed to the three goals scored against their Canadian rivals.
A few could justifiably point out the result was against a not-so intimidating Canada. At the risk of potentially offending a few Canucks, the squad isn’t exactly the most daunting soccer team either, but there is something to be said about the promising performance from El Tri — especially in the attack.
On the right wing, where Vela would have likely played, Lozano dominated his area of the pitch and walked away as arguably one of Mexico’s best players. The 20-year-old scored El Tri’s second goal of the game and showed off his pace and determination in his 60 minutes on the pitch. The youngster’s drive was something that has rarely been seen from Vela in recent days.
While Lozano is continuing to garner attention from European clubs, Vela is also grabbing attention, but for the wrong reasons.
In Friday’s 4-3-3 formation, which seems to be favored by manager Juan Carlos Osorio, it was difficult to see where Dos Santos would have played. The L.A. Galaxy player works best as a second striker and can be far too quiet if he is in a position where he isn’t allowed to roam.
The 26-year-old wouldn’t steal a spot from either Andres Guardado or Hector Herrera in the midfield and doesn’t tend to thrive in a more restrictive spot on the wings. As for the lone striker position, there is no indication that Chicharito will be benched anytime soon or would be left out in favor of the former Barcelona product who plays as more of a No. 10.
Although he is currently injured, Dos Santos failed to make much of an impact with the Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League and one MLS match played this season. Osorio could claim that his omission was due to the injury, but it wouldn’t be farfetched to assume that he would have left out a healthy Dos Santos as well.
Looking at the spot in net, Talavera didn’t seem to show any problems in his clean sheet against Canada. Although it could be said that Ochoa is the most talented goalkeeper for Mexico, Osorio may not have much trust in the 30-year-old that has only started in two La Liga matches this season.
Talavera isn’t exactly a bad option either. The 33-year-old has been a vital figure for Toluca in the Liga MX and truly has the abilities as a goalkeeper to be a decent starter for some European clubs. No signs seem to point a move abroad for the veteran, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine him doing well with a mid-table Spanish club.
Does this all mean that Osorio won’t call-up these players for Mexico? Not at all. This is all based off of just one game.
Once healthy, Dos Santos could gain more minutes with the Galaxy and at least become an excellent option on the bench for El Tri. The player is still fairly young and easily has the skills to once again become one of MLS’ best players.
Vela is capable of turning his season around with Real Sociedad and also possibly stealing his spot back on Mexico starting XI. It wasn’t too long ago when his name was in the same conversation as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo when discussing La Liga’s best strikers.
As for Ochoa, the goalkeeper has looked great in his two matches played and could return to El Tri if he continues to impress with Malaga. The injury to starting goalkeeper Carlos Kameni has given Ochoa valuable playing time that could continue if he maintains his form.
All that being said, on Friday night, Mexico proved to fans and critics that the team can still entertain and find victories without the three aforementioned players. If the squad collects another likely victory next Tuesday in the rematch with Canada at home, some fans may soon overlook the likes of Vela and Dos Santos who have been inconsistent for Mexico. Others may trust the presence of Talavera instead of Ochoa and not want to shake up a formation that isn’t failing to amass points.
Keep an eye on Mexico next week. If the team once again demolishes Canada, it may not be good news for some significant names who aren’t on the current roster.