Across Europe, Mexico’s Foreign Legion had another productive weekend, as did Carlos Vela in the States.
Team Mexico coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino should be quite confident about the roster at his command when El Tri faces Chile and Paraguay during the FIFA break, especially as several members of El Tri plying their trade abroad enjoyed productive weekends.
Gerardo Martino makes his debut as coach of El Tri on Friday in a friendly match against Chile in San Diego. Mexico then travels to Santa Clara for a Tuesday date against Paraguay in Levi Stadium.
The list of players that “Tata” summoned for this FIFA break was the topic of much discussion last week, but some “seleccionados” left no doubt over the weekend that they belong on that list.
What more can we say about Raul Jimenez? The Wolverhampton striker had another heroic performance for Wolves, scoring the opener in an FA Cup match against Manchester United. Wolverhampton pulled off the historic upset, 2-1, and advanced to the semifinals.
Jimenez scored the first goal of the match in minute 70 off a wild scramble in front of the net. Wolves midfielder Joao Moutinho fed the Mexican striker in the box, but Jimenez was surrounded. His hurried shot attempt was stuffed, but he quickly recovered the ball and tried to drop it back to a teammate, but this too was blocked. Again Jimenez gathered the loose ball, but this time he spun and right-footed a bouncing shot just inside the left post. That was Raul’s 15th goal of the season in all competitions.
Not too far away, Jimenez’s top rival for El Tri’s starting striker position, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (pictured at top), tallied two late goals to deliver a 4-3 win for West Ham. Chicharito came on to start the second half with the Hammers losing 2-1. Huddersfield scored again in minute 65 to go up 3-1, but then Hernandez took his star turn. Teammate Angelo Ogbonna had narrowed the deficit to 3-2 when Chicharito rose to head home a cross from Samir Nasri. The home fans were still cheering the equalizer when Chicharito did it again, heading home early in stoppage time to provide the Hammers with a much-needed 4-3 win. Two goals including the game winner in 45 minutes. Not bad heading into a training camp under a new coach. Chicharito has 8 goals in all competitions this season and a total of 51 goals in the English Premier League.
More from Viva Liga MX
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- The Clásico Regiomontano is Heating Up
- Pumas: In Search of Regaining a Top Spot
- Why the United States Is Set to Overtake Mexico on the World Stage
- Erick Gutierrez is out once again
Another Team Mexico forward, Hirving “Chucky” Lozano scored the game-winner for PSV in minute 86 as Eindhoven beat VVV Venlo. Lozano’s goal was a brilliant individual play. He dribbled toward the top of the box, eluded multiple Venlo defenders and fired a low shot out of the crowd and past the goalie. It was Lozano’s 15th goal in the Eredivisie and his 19th in all competitions, to go along with 6 assists during his 1,954 minutes of game action. Chucky’s stats are simply superb over his two-year career with PSV. PSV and Team Mexico teammate Erick Gutierrez did not see any action in the PSV win.
In Spain, 27-year-old central defender Nestor Araujo played at the Santiago Bernabeu where his Celta de Vigo lost 2-0 to Real Madrid in Zinedine Zidane’s return to the sidelines. Araujo was in his usual starting position with Celta where he has become a reliable defender and he helped his side keep a clean sheet through the first half. Araujo’s team has gone five straight without a win, and the ghost of relegation is lingering over “Los Celestes.”
El Tri captain Andres Guardado was on the field for Real Betis as Leo Messi put on a marvelous show in leading Barcelona to a 4-1 road win. There was little Guardado could do but sing Messi’s praises after the match. The game against Barcelona was the 350th European appearance for “El Principito” since moving abroad in 2007. The Mexican midfielder has become an iconic player wherever he plays at both the club level and with the national team.
Teenage midfielder Diego Lainez came on for the final 20 minutes and delivered the assist on Betis’ only goal of the night. The 18-year-old Lainez had not seen much action over the past several weeks but he put on a nice show during the few minutes given him on Sunday. Lainez hustled, fought for possession, was patient with the ball and forced defenders to chase him on the wing.
Real Sociedad defender Hector Moreno did not see any action in his team’s 1-1 draw against Levante. Moreno has not seen consistent minutes with Real Sociedad this season, causing a bit of concern that the Azteca defender is way off form. Another Team Mexico defender, Diego Reyes, played the first half for Legañes who fell 2-0 to Girona.
FC Porto, where both Jesus “Tecatito” Corona and Hector Herrera play, had a 3-0 win over Maritimo. Both Mexicans were a factor in the win for Porto. Tecatito played on the wing and recorded his 10th assist of this season. However, Corona tweaked his ankle and was not able to make the trip to California to join El Tri during the FIFA break. Herrera played the first half but watched the rest of the game from the bench. Herrera asked coach Martino not to invite him for the friendly matches as he is in the middle of acquiring his EU passport. The passport will help him this summer as he prepares to sign with a new team – hopefully a big club like Atletico Madrid or Inter Milan.
Another, often overlooked, Mexico prospect in Portugal, defender Antonio Briseño, scored the only goal for Feirense as his team fought to a 1-1 draw against Tondela. Briseño’s header came right before halftime giving him 2 goals this season and 5 since he moved to Portugal. Briseño’s performances with humble Feirense (they are likely to be relegated after the season) have led many fans to believe he deserves an opportunity with El Tri.
In the States, LAFC captain Carlos Vela continues to dominate in the MLS. Vela scored twice against NYCFC in a 2-2 draw in Yankee Stadium. Vela poked the ball into the back of the net in the 43rd minute, and converted a penalty kick in minute 76.
Jonathan Dos Santos and Uriel Antuna both saw action with the LA Galaxy, with both contributing significantly to their 3-2 win over Minnesota United. Antuna replaced star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who was out with an injury – making his third consecutive start. The 21-year-old Antuna led the Galaxy attack, winning respect while making his presence known with his attacking abilities. He earned the penalty kick that Dos Santos converted and later had an assist.
It was a fiesta of goals and performances this past weekend for many Mexican players abroad. El Tri has a long list of talented players making names for themselves, proving that the talent in Mexico should not be overlooked.