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U.S. at a low ebb as Mexico hopes soar

World Cup qualifying
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Juan Carlos Osorio doesn't entertain like Piojo or Tuca, but he gets results

Juan Carlos Osorio
Juan Carlos Osorio has been starkly less animated than his predecessors in the Mexico dugout.

Mexico beat Senegal 2-0 in an international friendly on Wednesday in Miami, and the win was the most positive aspect of the entire game.

Of course, it's expecting too much out of a squad that was basically auditioning for more involvement in what will be a busy year for Mexico. To manage World Cup qualifying games, the Copa America Centenario and defending their Olympic title, El Tri will need not only the regulars in the national team, but a bigger rotation of players as well.

Senegal, with an average age under 23 years old, put up resistance in the first half, giving the Liga MX players fits. A direct, athletic team has always been a bit of a weak spot for Mexico's more creative, possession-style of play. The Mexican players struggled to implement the tactics of coach Juan Carlos Osorio. Only in the second half were they able to break through and score for the comfortable triumph.

In some ways, the biggest story of the game was actually not on the field, but in the stands. Mexico crowds in the U.S. are usually so large and enthusiastic that they're somewhat taken for granted. It's only a surprise if the stands aren't completely full. In Miami, they certainly were not.

While it's true that at some point Mexico fans -- not only in Miami, but elsewhere -- won't show loyalty to games of little importance featuring few stars, there's also the fact that Osorio's approach to the team is so clinical and calculating that it's also a little cold.

The World Cup wasn't long ago, so plenty of people still remember how former coach Miguel Herrera celebrated goals so exuberantly. Or even more recently, how coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti, in his own gruff way, motivated the squad during his games in charge. Osorio is different, more scientific, almost to the point of being antiseptic. He's too busy analyzing players to celebrate with them yet.

Yet the Mexican squad hired Osorio because they wanted a break from the usual, to see if the team would respond to a different approach. The Mexican federation could well see the Miami game as a mere blip in the usual streak of strong fan support for the squad. That may well be, especially if Osorio keeps winning. If he can continue to pile up victories, that will distract fans from how Ferretti and Herrera not only won in their coaching tenure, but were more interesting and entertaining along the way.

Andrea Canales covers both Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter @soccercanales.

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