El Tri officially began it’s new era with Diego Cocca at the forefront. The Mexican National team faced it’s first opponent in Surinam, with various key players not able to make the trip. However, given the disparity between both National Teams, it was more than enough to get them through to a 2-0 win. Soon after, El Tri returned to the mythical Estadio Azteca for an uninspiring 2-2 tie against Jamaica.
Who didn’t Perform?
Despite various appearances with Mexico, Uriel Antuna seems to lack a finishing touch in the final third. His speed has always been a strength for him but his inability to be precise in key moments sets can hinder any dangerous plays.
Cruz Azul midfielder Carlos ‘Charly’ Rodriguez has been mostly unimpactful for El Tri. In 40 appearances for Mexico, Rodriguez has only registered five assists for Mexico. This comes at a time where Mexico has been virtually uninspiring up top scoring only six goals in their last four games, with only two of those games ending in a win.
The biggest question mark however, is Raul Jimenez. The Wolves striker has now gone a calendar year without scoring an open goal, or a goal in general, with Mexico. Raul suffered a near career-ending injury in a Premier League game against Arsenal in 2020, hindering his confidence in front of goal for El Tri.
As far as the right-back position goes for Mexico, it is covered pretty well. Jorge Sanchez is finishing up his first season abroad with Ajax and Kevin Alvarez is pointing towards a move to Europe very soon. However, the best right-back in this window was Lompoc native Julian Araujo. The Mexican-American Barcelona player subbed in early in the second half for Alvarez and was the shining point for Mexico. His speed and physical ability combined with his sharp crosses have made him a strong candidate for Mexico’s base squad ushering into the new era.
A slow but sure transition of the goalkeeping mantle with Carlos Acevedo stepping up is a sure sign of Mexico’s security in the net. The Santos Laguna goalkeeper was stellar against Surinam, commanding his area well and controlling his teammates at the right time. With Guillermo Ochoa still having a great season in Salernitana, Acevedo may have to wait for his opportunity to take the mantle.
A Look to the Future
Rome was not built in a day. This Mexican squad is far from the finished product that will appear on the pitch, a year or two from now. Diego Cocca continues to fluctuate the player pool and will create a base, determined by what players he sees responds to his tactics the best. With a Continental Clasico in April and the Nations League semi-finals in June, Mexico will have to find answers fast or risk losing to the USMNT in five consecutive matches.