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

Liga MX
Read

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

Mexico
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 By Nayib Moran

Omar Govea continues special season, Marco Fabian nears return

The guys discuss Bruce Arena's TV appearance, Mexico's successful international break and how to fix the MLS Cup playoffs.

With Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez out with a hamstring strain that could take two weeks to heal and Andres Guardado scheduled to play Monday night, this weekend's action of Mexico's European legion wasn't as heavy. Most of Mexico's players were coming off a week-and-a-half stretch that included friendlies against Belgium and Poland. Chicharito got injured during the Belgium game, and that's why he missed David Moyes' debut with West Ham, which finished with a 2-0 loss to Watford.

One of the main conclusions after Mexico's friendlies in Europe was that a significant number of players, who are currently playing in European clubs, aren't having much playing time. The 3-3 draw against Belgium and 1-0 win over Poland might suggest that these players' lack of playing time might not deter Mexico's overall play, but it can be noted as a bad symptom. Players like Diego Reyes, Miguel Layun and Hector Moreno can't arrive to next year's World Cup with very little playing time under their belt. It's one of the main developments that will be followed very closely by Juan Carlos Osorio and his coaching staff.

Here's a look back at the Heroes and Villains:

Heroes

After making his Mexico senior debut in the friendly against Poland, Omar Govea scored his fourth goal of the season, however, Royal Excel Mouscron lost 2-1 to Anderlecht in Week 15 of the Jupiler Pro League. After the loss, Mouscron extended its winless streak to seven matches, but Govea continues his impressive rise to prominence. He has taken the opportunity at Mouscron with a lot of maturity, and has given signs that he's ready to take an important step in his career next season. Since his playing rights belong to Porto, it will be interesting to see if the Portuguese club decides to give him a chance in the first-team in the upcoming offseason, or if there will be another club, among Europe's top-5 leagues, that will be willing to pick him up and give him minutes.

After 15 starts in Belgium's Jupiler Pro League, Guillermo Ochoa has had three games in which he didn't get scored on, most recently against Oostende. Unfortunately, none of them ended in Standard Liege wins, rather all of them ended in scoreless draws. There's no doubt that come next summer Ochoa will be El Tri's starter in its World Cup opener. His continuous battle to make a career for himself in Europe is paying off, and in the friendly against Belgium, his saves were a main reason why Mexico came out with an important draw.

Marco Fabian hasn't disputed a single minute in the new season because he underwent back surgery around late August in Houston, Texas. His recuperation period has gone as expected, and Eintracht Frankfurt looks forward on having him ready by the start of 2018. The following weeks will be key for Fabian, who will little by little integrate to Frankfurt's daily routine. Having an in-form Fabian in 2018 will not only benefit his club, but also the national team, who are interested in having a midfielder capable to contribute offensively, but also collaborate in defensive plays. Fabian proved last season with Frankfurt that he's become a more complete midfielder, and hopefully next year, he can take up from where he left off.

Omar Govea made his senior debut with Mexico against Poland during their international friendly on Nov. 13.

Villains

Hector Moreno didn't play a single minute in the Rome Derby between Roma and Lazio. In the friendly against Belgium, it was evident that Moreno wasn't in his best rhythm. In multiple plays, Moreno looked overwhelmed in the marking, making it easy for Belgium's attackers to get right past him. It's uncertain if Moreno's playing time will improve, or if he'll live one of the toughest seasons in his career since he arrived to Europe in 2007. In the last years, Moreno had been one of Mexico's most consistent players when it came to analyze which players had the most minutes played in Europe after each season, but it seems that with seven months to go until the World Cup, this time around he'll be one of the players with least number of minutes.

Due to a case of gastroenteritis, Carlos Vela wasn't included on Real Sociedad's gameday roster for its match against Girona. The game went on to finish in a 1-1 draw. The countdown is on; Vela has eight games left with Real Sociedad before he moves to Los Angeles FC. Let's see if he can score at least a goal before departing from a place that gave him so much like San Sebastian.

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

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