Electric Hirving Lozano, solid Jonathan dos Santos help Mexico to point
After earning a 1-0 win over Panama last Friday, Mexico followed it up with a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica. The team nearly had three points in hand Tuesday night, but thanks to a powerful strike from Marcos Urena in the 82nd minute, Los Ticos were able to salvage a late draw.
Good result or not, Mexico can still hold its head high after officially qualifying for the World Cup last week. That said, before beginning to prepare for Russia 2018, the squad still has to take part in two CONCACAF Hexagonal matches in early October against Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago.
Were it not for Keylor Navas' big saves in net for Costa Rica, Mexico might have been able to walk away with a win. El Tri was dynamic in the attack, and considering the fact that stars such as Javier Hernandez and Carlos Vela were left off the starting XI, it was impressive to see Mexico thrive in the frontline.
An outstanding player like Raul Jimenez also continues to add much-needed depth for striker options. If Hernandez is ever injured or having a bad game, manager Juan Carlos Osorio can rest easy knowing that Jimenez can seamlessly take charge of the striker role.
The midfield was at times worrisome for Mexico. While Diego Reyes struggled as the defensive midfielder, Andres Guardado looked tired and ineffective. With Rafael Marquez now out of the picture in the near future, the squad can't afford to have a leader like Guardado producing lackluster performances.
As for the defensive midfield position, Mexico has yet to have a player truly dominate the role in recent games.
Manager rating out of 10:
8 -- After qualifying for the World Cup, Osorio had the right idea by benching a few key players. Although the coach could have understandably gone for a defensive approach, it was fascinating to see Osorio push for an attack-minded and high-pressing style in a difficult away clash.
As mentioned earlier, a solid showing from Navas was one of the only reasons why Mexico didn't earn a win.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Guillermo Ochoa, 7.5 -- After thriving in the previous 1-0 victory against Panama, Ochoa once again stepped up as a key player for Mexico. Despite the goal from Urena, which Ochoa had no chance of saving, the Mexico keeper had just as much of an influence as Navas on the other end of the pitch.
DF Edson Alvarez, 7.5 -- Alvarez exceeded expectations once again. The 19-year-old, who is looking like one of the most promising young names for Mexico, proved to be a wall in the backline with his numerous tackles and interceptions.
DF Jair Pereira, 6 -- An average evening for the central defender. Other than some necessary clearances, Pereira was occasionally an ideal target for Costa Rica's attack.
DF Hector Moreno, 6 -- Was more quiet than Pereira in the backline. Following a recent recovery from injury, it might take some time for the Roma player to find his rhythm.
DF Jesus Gallardo, 5.5 -- Had moments of brilliance, but aside from a couple of daring runs, the quick left back wasn't very effective in the defense or attack.
MF Jonathan dos Santos, 7 -- Covered plenty of ground for Mexico. The midfielder was accurate with his distribution and aggressive with his pressure all over the field.
MF Diego Reyes, 4 -- The draw with Los Ticos was another example of Reyes looking sluggish as the defensive midfielder. The hosts regularly moved with ease past the Porto midfielder in the draw.
MF Andres Guardado, 5 -- Another strange game for the 30-year-old captain, who failed to make much of an impact and nearly cost Mexico a goal after a mistimed pass.
FW Hirving Lozano, 8.5 -- With a steady supply of risk-taking runs, Lozano was the most entertaining player on the pitch. The winger's confidence seems to be growing exponentially and he was unlucky not to score on two instances in particular.
FW Giovani dos Santos, 5.5 -- Despite the fact that he forced an own goal in the first half, Dos Santos needed to be more proactive performance on the wings. Other attacking options such as Lozano and Jimenez eclipsed his conservative showing.
FW Raul Jimenez, 8 -- No player worked harder than Jimenez. Although he lost possession a few times, the striker worked well with Mexico's attack, fought for every ball and helped cause the own goal with a threatening cross.
FW Jesus Corona, 7 -- Was substituted on for Guardado during the 64th minute. Corona had a lively cameo appearance in the second half. However, the 24-year-old should be frustrated with his clear chance on net that was sent straight to Navas.
FW Carlos Vela, N/A -- Was substituted on for Giovani during the 72nd minute.
DF Cesar Montes, N/A -- Came on for Jimenez during the 79th minute.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.