The 21 year old fullback was named to Matchday 10’s Ideal Starting 11 for his performance against Morelia.
Sunday afternoon at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario, the visiting Monarcas of Morelia suffocated the Pumas by pressing the home team right from the opening whistle. The home team suffered and struggled but finally mounted a comeback and equalized with 15 minutes to spare, thanks to a splendid play by Alan Mozo
The one player who stood out for the Pumas was right back Alan Mozo. He played the entire 90 minutes, won 10 duels, made 3 key passes, got off 2 successful crosses, was 2 for 2 on tackles 90, and recorded 2 shots (1 hit the crossbar, 1 went just wide) and 1 assist – a beauty of a cross that Felipe Mena headed home to tie the game in minute 74.
Mozo grew up in Mexico City always dreaming of playing for the Pumas. When he was 9, he wrote a letter introducing himself: “My name is Alan Mozo Rodriguez. My favorite teams are Barcelona and the Pumas and I want to be a professional soccer player.”
At first, it seemed unlikely that he would realize his dream. Mozo was rejected twice by the Pumas academy, but the youngster refused to give up. After his third tryout – at the age of 16 – the academy recruiters brought Mozo aboard and he has not let them down.
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Last season, Mozo was given the chance to claim the starting spot at right fullback and he made no mistake. He is now the undeniable choice at right back, accumulating 40 starts total – in both Copa MX and Liga MX.
Mozo has become more than a reliable defender who is capable of carrying the ball up the wing and participating in the offense. He is aggressive in 1-on-1 challenges and not afraid to get physical when necessary.
The Mexico City native is getting recognition across the league, and national team managers are noticing. Jaime Lozano, the coach of Mexico’s Under-23 team and a Pumas product, as well, has invited Mozo to training camp ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
So far this season, Mozo has started nine of the Pumas’ 10 games, totaling 810 minutes. His effort late in the match while UNAM trailed 2-1 is typical of his talent and effort. In minute 72, the Pumas took a long free kick that was cleared with a header, the ball soaring about 10 meters outside the box at top right. Mozo charged in trapped it forward with a high boot and without breaking stride zipped a shot from 20 meters that sailed just wide of the left post.
Two minutes later, the Pumas took a corner kick from the left side. The ball was cleared out the opposite side of the box and Mozo raced 25 yards to tackle the ball and steal it from a Morelia defender. He quickly scrambled to his feet, dribbled to the touch line and sent a low cross into the box that cleared the scrum in the middle, finding Felipe Mora’s forehead at the back post. It was a spectacular game-tying assist for Mozo.
Mozo will probably benefit from his U-23 experience and it should open the door to a chance with the senior team. Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar have been manning the right back position, but Layun will be 34 when Qatar 2022 rolls around and Aguilar will be 36.
It seems likely that it is only a matter of time before Alan Mozo will be wearing the green jersey of the senior team, taking instructions from coach Gerardo Martino with a realistic chance of being the starting right back in Qatar.