Jesus Corona, Hirving Lozano make mark as Mexico awakens vs. Trinidad
Thanks to late goals from Hirving Lozano, Javier Hernandez and Hector Herrera, Mexico was able to secure a dramatic 3-1 victory over Trinidad and Tobago on Friday night. Although the Soca Warriors were the first to find the back of the net, during the 66th minute, the visiting side could do little to stop El Tri's overwhelming response in the final stages of the match.
With three more points in hand, manager Juan Carlos Osorio will seek to maintain Mexico's undefeated run in the CONCACAF Hexagonal when his team visits Honduras on Tuesday.
El Tri already had a spot guaranteed for the World Cup before Friday's game kicked off. The team treated the first half like a training session, and it showed. That said, after Trinidad and Tobago scored the first goal, it was impressive to see Mexico quickly bounce back with three of its own.
During the qualifying run for the 2014 World Cup, it wouldn't have been that surprising to see El Tri stumble to a loss in a similar scenario.
Most of the game felt and looked like practice for Mexico. In a match where certain players should have been fighting to enhance their bids for a spot on the national team, many looked disinterested and aloof.
Specifically, names such as Giovani dos Santos, Javier Aquino and Carlos Salcedo should have tried to make a better case for themselves.
Manager rating out of 10:
8 -- Osorio took a risk by going with a late all-out attack, but it paid off beautifully with the 3-1 result. The manager gave certain fringe players a chance in his strong starting XI, and likely learned some constructive lessons with the victory.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jose Corona, 7 -- Despite allowing a goal, Corona still impressed with a handful of big saves. The veteran continues to be worthy of at least a backup role for the national team.
DF Carlos Salcedo, 5 -- The weak link in El Tri's defense. Although he was decent with his passing, Salcedo failed to halt some dangerous counters from Trinidad and Tobago.
DF Diego Reyes, 5.5 -- An underwhelming evening highlighted by a crucial mistake in the second half. Reyes' poor marking allowed the lone goal from Trinidad and Tobago.
DF Hector Moreno, 7 -- No complaints regarding Mexico's leading distributor from the back line. The opposition's front line rarely tested Moreno on Friday night.
DF Miguel Layun, 7.5 -- What at first appeared to be a listless match from Layun quickly turned into a proactive and efficient one. When Mexico needed a goal, the high-pressing defender stepped up with an assist and several dangerous crosses.
MF Hector Herrera, 7.5 -- Like Layun, Herrera took charge late into the game. During the second half, the midfielder made an obvious effort to increase his number of passes in the final third. His incredible goal in the 94th minute didn't hurt, either.
MF Andres Guardado, 7 -- El Tri's captain covered plenty of ground and provided some vital tackles in the midfield. Guardado was another key distributor during the second-half push.
MF Giovani Dos Santos, 5 -- As an attack-minded midfielder, Dos Santos struggled to make much of an impact. Following his reserved performance, the 28-year-old has failed to win over his growing number of skeptics.
FW Jesus Corona, 8.5 -- Credit must be given to "Tecatito" for treating this game as a must-win. The winger was brilliant with his incessant dribbling and runs on both wings for Mexico. Corona also helped create the second goal for El Tri on Friday.
FW Javier Hernandez, 6.5 -- Hernandez's goal will do plenty to cover up an off day. The striker accomplished his objective but also showcased a few worrisome moments with his connection to the midfield.
FW Javier Aquino, 6 -- Considering the fact that he is typically a bench player, Aquino needed to have more of an influence. Other than a number of short passes, the winger was far too quiet.
FW Hirving Lozano, 7.5 -- Substituted in for Aquino during the 56th minute, Lozano was eager to impress in his cameo appearance. Following his performance and goal, the PSV Eindhoven player is worthy of a start for Mexico.
FW Carlos Vela, 6 -- Was substituted in for Dos Santos during the 61st minute. Not much to say about the substitute who might be losing his starting role for El Tri. Vela had a couple of dangerous passes, but will have a hard time stealing minutes from Lozano or Tecatito in the future.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.