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Liga MX 2018 Apertura: What you need to know before kickoff

Liga MX

Juan Carlos Osorio has to choose: Mexico, U.S. or Europe?


Mexico Hot List: Javier Aquino's recent play could earn him a start

Javier Aquino, who was likely already going to be called up, has been on a hot streak of late.

With a spot already clinched for the 2018 World Cup, Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio will soon need to solidify his best options for El Tri.

Keeping in mind that a call-up list for the early October qualifiers will be released later on this month, here are the recent best and worst performances from Mexican footballers at home and abroad.

Warming Up

Javier Aquino, MF, Tigres (Mexico)

Why he's here: The winger was brilliant for Tigres last Friday. During the 3-3 draw against Morelia, Aquino stood out with his two goals, one of which was arguably the most impressive of the Liga MX weekend. Following the match, the Tigres star now has three goals in his last two games.

What this means: Good run of form or not, Aquino likely had a place reserved in the next call-up list. That said, after the winger's dominant display last Friday, Osorio might consider giving El Tri's backup a start in the upcoming CONCACAF qualifiers.

Jonathan Gonzalez, MF, Monterrey (Mexico)

Why he's here: The 18-year-old has been a revelation for Monterrey this season. Although he made his league debut just two months ago, Gonzalez has easily taken charge as the defensive midfielder for Los Rayados. On Saturday's 2-1 win over Atlas, Gonzalez shined with his accurate distribution, interceptions and tackles.

What this means: In spite of his previous involvement with U.S. youth squads, the California native is still eligible for Mexico. Gonzalez may not be the immediate answer for El Tri's defensive midfield worries, but he is an exciting option that might be given a try.

Andres Guardado, MF, Real Betis (Spain)

Why he's here: Guardado is thriving with his new La Liga club. Since joining Real Betis over the summer, the Mexico captain has quickly emerged as an influential and hard-working player on the roster. Over the weekend, Guardado collected an assist in the 2-1 victory against Deportivo La Coruna.

What this means: Ahead of the World Cup, this is all good news for fans of El Tri's captain. Even if he is given a break in the next call-up, there's no question that Guardado will continue to be one of the most important figures in Mexico's squad.

Cooling Down

Raul Lopez, DF, Pachuca (Mexico)

Why he's here: Similar to the rest of Pachuca's backline, Lopez has become quiet in recent weeks. After struggling in the previous losses to Tijuana and Chivas, the right-back once again failed to help control the defense during Saturday's 3-1 loss to Leon.

What this means: Following a lack of minutes in Mexico's two qualifiers earlier this month, Lopez's current run with Pachuca doesn't bode well for another potential call-up. Will Osorio give the high-pressing defender another chance?

Carlos Vela, FW, Real Sociedad (Spain)

Why he's here: It seems as though manager Eusebio Sacristan is already looking past Vela. With a transfer already set for LAFC in January, Vela has yet to earn a La Liga start for Real Sociedad this season. Last Sunday, the winger didn't make an appearance until the second half of the 3-1 loss to Real Madrid.

What this means: Regardless of whether he is called up or given a rest, the big question now is if Vela can hold onto his starting role by next summer. Other agile and promising wingers like Hirving Lozano and Jesus "Tecatito" Corona will make things very difficult for the 28-year-old.

Antonio Briseno, DF, Feirense (Portugal)

Why he's here: The 2011 U17 World Cup winner made headlines in July when he announced that he was joining Portugal's Feirense. Unfortunately for Briseno, the defender has yet to appear on a single matchday roster for his new club this season.

What this means: At least a handful of starts in the Primeira Liga might have been enough to garner some interest from Osorio. Instead, without a single minute of playing time abroad, Briseno has yet to push away his current irrelevant status with El Tri.

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


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