Pizarro's play for Chivas has him in line for potential Mexico call-up
Later this week, Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio will release his call-ups for the Jan. 31 friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Because this match lands on a non-FIFA date, Mexico's roster is expected to be composed of countless Liga MX options.
In short, it will be a final Russia 2018 try-out for several backup and fringe names who will be desperate for national team relevance. With the upcoming friendly in mind, let's take a look at the recent best and worst performances from those vying for a spot in El Tri's World Cup squad.
Rodolfo Pizarro, MF, Chivas (Mexico)
Why he's here: In Saturday's 3-1 away win over Necaxa, Pizarro was brilliant for Chivas. The midfielder finished with an assist, covered an immense amount of ground and proved to be a versatile asset with his tackles, shots and distribution.
What this means: Despite Chivas' problems last season, Pizarro was able to emerge as one of the squad's most hard-working and impressive players. Thanks to this and his game over the weekend, the 23-year-old is an ideal candidate to be selected for Mexico's next call-up.
Hiram Mier, DF, Queretaro (Mexico)
Why he's here: Mier is having a short but recognizable second wind in his career with Queretaro. Whether it be due to Los Gallos Blancos' playing style or the player himself, the central defender has appeared as an imposing and effective figure in the start of the 2018 Clausura.
What this means: Although Osorio would ideally love to patch some holes on the left-hand side of the backline, the right-footed defender is quickly becoming an intriguing option to consider.
Gibran Lajud, GK, Club Tijuana (Mexico)
Why he's here: Why have Xolos yet to allow a goal this season? One key reason is the impact that Lajud has had in net. Following Saturday's 0-0 draw with Monterrey, the 24-year-old goalkeeper now has three shutouts in just as many games.
What this means: Lajud has the talent to make his way up El Tri's depth chart, all that was missing was the consistency. With a perfect run in the first few weeks of the Clausura, a call-up is justified for the Xolos player.
Martin Barragan, FW, Necaxa (Mexico)
Why he's here: There's little to say about the progress that the striker has made this season. Barragan has yet to collect a goal or assist, and in the recent loss to Chivas, the second-half substitute deflected a ball into his own net.
What this means: The 26-year-old would be quite lucky to get a call-up for Osorio this month. At the moment, other Liga MX-based strikers such as Oribe Peralta, Alan Pulido or Henry Martin are ahead of Barragan in the fight for a place in the roster.
Hector Moreno, DF, Roma (Italy)
Why he's here: As usual, Moreno watched another Serie A game from the bench. Roma's 1-1 draw with Inter was the 11th league match in a row without the Mexican international in the starting XI.
What this means: Because of the non-FIFA date scheduling of this month's friendly, Moreno and other European-based options are not expected to be added to the squad. As for his lack of minutes, although the veteran essentially has a World Cup starting role set for Mexico, sporadic appearances with Roma will do little to instill hope when he eventually returns to the field for El Tri.
Raul Lopez, DF, Pachuca (Mexico)
Why he's here: With "Shaggy" Martinez taking charge as Pachuca's starting right-back this season, Lopez has had a difficult time earning appearances. In Saturday's 3-1 victory against Lobos BUAP, Lopez didn't see a single minute.
What this means: Osorio is already well aware of the Pachuca backup's high-pressing and attack-minded style of play, which means that it wouldn't be surprising if the manager once again includes him in his plans this month. That said, if Lopez wants to sneak into the World Cup roster, he needs to immediately earn back his starting role with Pachuca, finish with an outstanding season and also impress Osorio in the upcoming friendly.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.