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Stern tests ahead for Mexico


Mexicans Abroad: Aquino excels at Rayo

Javier Aquino, left, put in a stellar performance in Rayo Vallecano's opening day draw versus Atletico Madrid.
Javier Aquino, left, put in a stellar performance in Rayo Vallecano's opening day draw versus Atletico Madrid.

While Hector Herrera scored a goal last week, Javier Aquino will steal the headlines for the Mexicans abroad.

The Rayo Vallecano winger had an excellent showing against Atletico Madrid on Monday, solidifying his role as a key player for Rayo in the first game of the season. Aquino, especially in the second half, was uninhibited with his movement forward and seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself on the pitch. The match between Rayo Vallecano and Atletico Madrid ended in a scoreless tie, but that must have felt like a significant win for the 24-year-old Mexican international.

Aquino has the potential to be a great player, but in the past he has needed to work on his final touch on the ball. Against defending La Liga champion Atletico, it was apparent that Aquino is making progress, and it will be interesting to see how much he will grow in his time at Rayo Vallecano.

The ex-Cruz Azul player easily had the best performance of the past week, but what about the rest of his Europeo compatriots?

On the other side in the same match was Atletico striker Raul Jimenez. He was given his first start in La Liga and was above-average in his league debut. Jimenez connected well with Mario Mandzukic and almost had an assist.

Depending on the formation that Atletico manager Diego Simeone utilizes this season, it may be difficult for Jimenez to find more starting roles. Then again, Atletico will have plenty of matches, and the decision to start Jimenez in the opening match says plenty about management's trust in him.

Rafael Marquez started for Hellas Verona during their recent game in the Coppa Italia. Marquez played the full match and helped secure a shutout for Verona in their 3-0 win over Cremonese. The defender has already become a significant player on the team and will likely be a considerable influence in Serie A play this season.

Forward Carlos Vela gained his first minutes with Real Sociedad in months, but might have to wait a bit longer to fully recover from his plantar fasciitis injury. Vela was subbed in late in Real Sociedad's season-opening match against Eibar but wasn't able to make enough of an impact to help his club score; Real Sociedad lost 1-0. Now that Antoine Griezmann is gone, Vela will need to be even more active in the attack for the San Sebastian club.

A starting role for keeper Guillermo Ochoa seemed guaranteed at Malaga, but "Memo" spent the entirety of Malaga's 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on the bench. Carlos Kameni, who started in net for Malaga, had an impressive game and will give Ochoa some trouble for time on the pitch. Although it's too early in the season to make serious assumptions, it's not a great start for Ochoa at his new club.

Javier Hernandez may have thought he'd benefit from the Danny Welbeck departure rumors, but the weekend proved otherwise. Manchester United's 1-1 tie against Sunderland made those rumors once again just rumors as Welbeck came on as a substitute in the match instead of Hernandez.

The transfer window is beginning to close and the newly speculated destination for Hernandez appears to be Juventus. Will he leave? Or will his high wages scare potential suitors away?

Espanyol started off their season with a 1-1 tie against Almeria over the weekend. Hector Moreno is still expected to return to the team either late this year or early next year after breaking his tibia during the World Cup.

Jonathan dos Santos was left out of the roster for Villarreal in their opener, but his brother Giovani was a vital member of the starting 11. Giovani provided some great opportunities for The Yellow Submarine and helped secure a 2-0 win over Levante. As for Jonathan, it might be another week or two before El Tri fans get to see him play. The younger of the two brothers has been subpar during the preseason and currently seems best as a backup player in the midfield.

Hector Herrera and Diego Reyes have been called up for Porto's Champions League match against Lille on Tuesday. Still, Reyes may not be given another starting role for the squad. He has not made an appearance for the club since the preseason and has spent most of his time on the bench. Herrera, on the other hand, is a massive factor in the midfield for the Dragons and even scored a goal for the squad last week during their most recent encounter against Lille.

Andres Guardado becomes the third ever Mexican to suit up for Dutch side PSV.
Andres Guardado becomes the third ever Mexican to suit up for Dutch side PSV.

Andres Guardado finished an impressive preseason with Valencia and is on his way to PSV Eindhoven. The deal was made official early Tuesday morning as the Mexican international joins the storied Dutch side on loan. Guardado will look to gain more playing time with the club but will also compete with the likes of many Dutch national team players who have recently been called up to the national team from PSV.

It's tough to report on Nery Castillo when the striker doesn't seem to be playing at all for his squad. Castillo has made the move to the Kalloni FC but had no role (not even on the bench) in their 1-1 tie against PAOK in the Greek Super League.

Jesus "Tecatito" Corona continues to oscillate between Twente's reserve and starting team. Corona scored twice last week for the reserve team shortly after being brought back to the senior team. He wasn't called up for any of the senior games over the weekend. Will Corona ever make a serious impact in the Eredivisie?

Ex-Club America player Gabriel Piccolo was recently dropped from Scottish side Partick Thistle. The central defender is currently without a club and there have been no rumors about any possible options.

Ulises Davila continues to train with Chelsea, but everybody knows that the attacker has no chance with the starting team. The debacle with Cordoba seems to have ended, and my guess is that Chelsea want more money from any club that want to sign him.

Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.


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