Hirving Lozano lone bright spot in Mexico's uneven effort vs. Uruguay
HOUSTON -- Two goals from Luis Suarez helped Uruguay to a 4-1 victory over Mexico in front of an announced crowd of 60,617 at NRG Stadium on Friday night. Here are three quick takes from the game:
1. Mexico's rebuilding process will require patience
Former Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio talked regularly in the first half of 2018 about the generational change that is required now the World Cup is out of the way. Interim coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti picked up that baton and selected a squad in which 15 of the 24 names are under the age of 25 for Friday's game and Tuesday's clash against the United States.
The initial evidence from this loss points to the rebuilding process requiring time. Ferretti suggested as much in his presentation earlier this week, stressing that this group of players need to be given some leeway to adapt to the international game.
That was put into sharp focus at NRG Stadium against a Uruguay team that may not have had its maestro Oscar Tabarez on the sidelines -- the federation continues to have serious off-field problems -- but has such an ingrained DNA that it seems almost to be able to play on autopilot.
Mexico started with only three players based in Europe against a Uruguay team filled with players in top European leagues. It was a mismatch.
This was the kind of disjointed effort from Mexico you'd expect from a side that hasn't played together before and has been shorn of most its experienced players.
All three goals conceded in the first half were from set pieces. The first was from a Jose Maria Gimenez header from a corner, the second a Luis Suarez free-kick and the third a penalty from the same player.
Mexico's goal came from a Raul Jimenez penalty in the 25th minute and El Tri did enjoy the vast majority of the possession over the 90 minutes. The score could've even been tighter had Jimenez converted a penalty at 4-1 and Victor Guzman's late audacious overhead kick had not gone off the bar, but the game was over by then and Mexico never really took Uruguay out of its comfort zone.
This was an easy outing for a Uruguay preparing for next summer's Copa America. For Meixco, there is nothing to panic about, but Uruguay's quality and attitude was a reminder that there is a long way to go for this generation to match the Russia 2018 generation, never mind go beyond the
2. Lozano the figurehead of new Mexican generation
The major positive for Mexico was PSV Eindhoven's Hirving Lozano. The 23-year-old was on a different level than many of his teammates and looked really like the only Mexican player who would seriously compete for a spot in a team as strong as Uruguay right now.
Lozano's directness and pace point to a player who has a big future in the way he's established himself in the Eredivisie. Lozano appears primed to jump to a bigger club next summer and provides an example for the rest of Mexico's youngsters to try to emulate.
And although Ferretti put out a starting XI that was experienced as he could've have given the squad at his disposal -- with the exception of 20-year-old debutant Jesus Angulo -- there were opportunities late on for the younger players.
Cruz Azul star Roberto Alvarado came on at half-time for his debut on his 20th birthday and looked bright, as did 18-year-old Diego Lainez of Club America in the 24 minutes he got. There was also a debut for 23-year-old Victor Guzman (Monterrey) in the second half.
But there were also some doubt about the likes of Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez, Jonathan dos Santos, Alan Pulido, and Elias Hernandez, who were part of the starting team, but didn't do much to enhance their claim for future participation.
3. Suarez goes above and beyond for Uruguay
It's only been 63 days since Uruguay crashed out of Russia 2018 against eventual winners France. And even Uruguay fans would surely have forgiven Luis Suarez for slightly easing off.
But operating at anything else than 100 percent seems to be an anathema for the former Liverpool player.
Suarez looked to be as determined and fired up for a September friendly against Mexico as he was at the World Cup. This was Suarez at his devilish best and Mexico had little answer.
By halftime, Suarez had been yellow-carded for a late challenge, screamed at the referee to give Mexico's Luis Rodriguez a card, won a penalty, scored a Panenka and bent in a free-kick from just outside the penalty area.
After the break, Suarez was again remonstrating with the officials after he was fouled by Jonathan Gonzalez and provided the game's outstanding moment on Uruguay's fourth goal.
Suarez found the ball on the left hand side of the penalty area and wrong-footed the entire Mexico defense with a rabona cross that Gaston Pereiro headed in in the 59th minute to real end the game as a competitive contest.
By the time he was taken off in the 68th, there was absolutely no doubt who the player of the match had been. It's hardly a surprise that a player of Suarez's quality was so influential, but his attitude in wanting so badly to win a post-World Cup friendly provided a lesson to Mexico's young team.