AC Ajaccio
Leg 1
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Toronto FC
FC Dallas
12:00 AM UTC May 26, 2018
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Houston Dynamo
New York City FC
12:55 AM UTC May 26, 2018
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LA Galaxy
San Jose Earthquakes
3:00 AM UTC May 26, 2018
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12:00 PM UTC May 25, 2018
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7:00 PM UTC May 25, 2018
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Real Madrid
ESPN3 6:45 PM UTC May 26, 2018
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Aston Villa
4:00 PM UTC May 26, 2018
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Who will be the next Rafa Marquez?


Enjoy Marquez while you still can

 By Nayib Moran

Mexico's Juan Carlos Osorio flags changes ahead of Canada second leg

MEXICO CITY -- In a 30-minute news conference, where Juan Carlos Osorio and FC Porto defender Miguel Layun responded to all the questions asked by the press in Mexico national teams' Centro de Alto Rendimiento, Osorio took the time to recall his days when he worked at Manchester City and mentioned how Mexican winger Hirving "Chucky" Lozano reminded him of a young Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Lozano is Mexican football's man of the moment. The cameras scrambled in his direction on Monday while he was enjoying himself taking shots on goal with Layun and Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.

When Hernandez or Layun were shooting, Lozano sat beside former Pachuca midfielder Hector Herrera and received pointers from the 25-year-old midfielder on how to appropriately connect his right foot with the ball.

Lozano, at 20-years-old, is living a dream many young Mexican footballers wish to be living.

Even though the positivity in the Mexico camp is being reflected with the squad's actions as well as words, Osorio was keen to bring the tone down. The Colombian is taking nothing for granted, even if he's the first-ever El Tri coach to debut with four wins, conceding zero goals.

In front of a packed conference room, Osorio detailed how his line-up could potentially look on Tuesday night in the second leg of Mexico's World Cup qualifier against Canada.

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"In regards to the tactical structure, I think we will see changes. There will be a small change that we will do for the game tomorrow," he said.

"We believe that Canada will analyze and study the video [of Friday's 3-0 first-leg win] as we will.

"They're going to see their possibilities and are going to change several aspects. We have to learn from those situations, that's why when we think about what could leave us with a positive result tomorrow. Plus, the possibility of having one, two or three players who can fulfill one certain function on the field, we plan on making changes. The structure will be the same."

One sure absence in Mexico's starting XI will be that of Atlas defender, Rafael Marquez, who only played the first 45 minutes on Friday after sustaining a strain in one of his adductors. Osorio doesn't want Marquez to return to Atlas with an injury and will likely give him a night off at Estadio Azteca.

"We're going to try to protect him ... we don't want Rafa to leave our camp injured," he said.

Santos Laguna's Nestor Araujo could make an appearance in the heart of the defense, accompanying Hector Moreno, who has started in all of Mexico's World Cup qualifying matches.

However, it's still unknown if Cruz Azul's Jose de Jesus Corona or Pumas' Alejandro "Pikolin" Palacios will be in goal. During the news conference, the Colombian manager didn't want to give anything away.

"Jesus [Corona] and Alejandro [Palacios] are having a healthy competition between the two. Tomorrow morning we will make a decision," Osorio said.

Juan Carlos Osorio
Juan Carlos Osorio looks set to tinker with Mexico's starting XI following their convincing 3-0 win over Canada on Friday.

Palacios, who is one of Pumas' most beloved footballers, could make his Mexico senior debut at Estadio Azteca, the home of Pumas' No. 1 rival, Club America.

When reflecting on El Tri's attacking options, Osorio noted how the differences between all the options are very small.

"There are positions where the differences are by a small margin, and that's something positive," Osorio continued. "Over here we think that Hirving [Lozano], Jesus ["Tecatito" Corona], and Javier [Aquino] are on the same level.

"Right behind them comes Isaac [Brizuela] and Candido [Ramirez] pushing hard."

Considering Marquez will likely sit out the rematch against Canada, Jesus Molina could be Mexico's defensive midfielder in the 4-3-3 formation. Players like Aquino, Brizuela, and Ramirez, all of whom didn't see playing time in Vancouver, could receive an invaluable opportunity by Osorio to convince him and his coaching staff that they're capable to be included in the final list for next summer's Copa Centenario.

Nayib Moran covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @nayibmoran.


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