Injuries hit Mexico national team’s attack, but Osorio has depth at hand
Juan Carlos Osorio would’ve liked to call up a stronger attack
when he named his squad Thursday.
But the Mexico coach finds himself handcuffed by injuries to
Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, Giovani dos Santos, Hirving Lozano,
Marco Fabian and Javier Aquino.
Still, you’d expect the Mexico attack to be fine. Javier
“Chicharito” Hernandez is always going to lead the line when
healthy, and Raul Jimenez has been more than serviceable for
Osorio in previous games against Central American opposition.
Costa Rica is no typical Central American team, though. The
Ticos have shown that time and again, most recently doing
so with 2-0 and 4-0 beatdowns on Trinidad and Tobago and the
United States to open qualification. There could be some cracks
in the team’s normally organized defense,
though. Giancarlo Gonzalez, who missed the last set of
qualifiers, continues riding the pine in Italy and Kendall
Waston had a night to forget against Tigres in the first leg of
the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.
Waston’s difficulty stopping Tigres’ surges forward may be part
of the blueprint for Osorio when his team hosts Costa Rica in
the first of two March qualifiers. Winger Jurgen Damm has been
excellent in CONCACAF Champions League play, helping Tigres
past Pumas and to a 2-0 win over Waston’s Vancouver Whitecaps.
Putting Damm on one side and Carlos Vela on the other could
alleviate any attacking woes Mexico might run into.
Aside from the injuries that forced Osorio’s hand, there
weren’t that many surprises – especially for a manager
who has regularly made interesting selection choices when
calling a team as well as when picking a starting XI. We’ve
seen Osorio trust Carlos Salcedo and Jesus Duenas at right back
before, and he’s also played three at the back against more
than a handful of sides since taking over in late 2015.
Ultimately, Osorio would prefer to have the injured players in
the side. Corona has become one of his most trusted players to
call upon and, as we saw in February’s friendly victory
against Iceland, the coach also has plenty of faith in what Dos
Santos can do when he’s given an opportunity.
Injury has denied them that chance now, but the attack should
be deep enough to overcome the hit. Osorio would rather take it
now than in the summer, when he needs a full squad for the
Confederations Cup and will take an entirely different one to
the Gold Cup in July.
Costa Rica will pose a test, but the difficulty of beating one
of the fellow giants of CONCACAF will be there whether the
injured attackers are included or not. Osorio won’t rest
easy without them, but this is a squad he’ll feel can take six
points from these two encounters regardless.