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Henry Martin, Hirving Lozano stay red-hot, Orbelin Pineda trending down

Sebastian Salazar and Herculez Gomez recap Mexico's first friendly of 2018, discuss who's on track to make Osorio's World Cup squad and reflect on Jonathan Gonzalez's debut.

Little by little, the World Cup is quickly inching closer to its opening date of June 14th. With only a few months to go until Russia 2018, several national teams are now fine-tuning their tactics and rosters before the much-anticipated tournament.

For Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio, he too will need to soon decide which 23 players will represent El Tri. Although it can be argued that most of the roster is already set, there is still space for a few players to sneak into a last minute plane ticket for Russia.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the recent best and worst individual performances in this week's Mexico Hot List.

Warming up

Henry Martin, FW, Club America (Mexico)

Why he's here: Martin has greatly exceeded expectations so far this season. Once a backup player for Club Tijuana, the striker has become a revelation for Club America in 2018. The 25-year-old, who collected a hat trick during Saturday's 5-1 win over Lobos BUAP, now has five goals in five games this campaign.

What this means: Unfortunately, he is still a long shot to go to the World Cup. European-based strikers such as Javier Hernandez and Raul Jimenez have all but secured a place on the roster, and there's no guarantee that Osorio will bring a third center-forward. All that said, if he somehow maintains this scoring rate, it wouldn't be shocking if he forced his way into El Tri's squad.

Hirving Lozano, FW, PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)

Why he's here: What more could you ask of "Chucky" Lozano? On Saturday, the winger was brilliant with his two assists for PSV in their 4-0 victory against PEC Zwolle. In his 19 Eredivisie appearances, the Mexican international has been prolific, registering 12 goals and nine assists.

What this means: El Tri's most promising young prospect is set to be a potential breakout star at the World Cup. All signs also point to a big summer transfer for the 22-year-old who is thriving in his first European season.

Arturo Gonzalez, MF, Monterrey (Mexico)

Why he's here: Is this the year where Gonzalez finally develops into one of the best players in La MX? Following Saturday's 5-1 win over Leon, the 2011 Under-17 World Cup champion now has three goals in his last four matches.

What this means: Competition is fierce for places in Mexico's midfield, and keeping in mind that Gonzalez has remained fairly irrelevant to the national team in recent years, it's going to be immensely difficult for him to steal the attention of Osorio. However, like Martin, a strong and consistent showing for Monterrey this season might be enough to secure a spot for El Tri.

Ex-Tijuana man Henry Martin has been a pleasant surprise so far for America.
With five goals in five games, Henry Martin is pushing to be a surprise inclusion on Mexico's World Cup roster.

Cooling down

Uriel Antuna, MF, Groningen (Netherlands)

Why he's here: The 20-year-old is struggling to find appearances with loan club Groningen and hasn't started for the Dutch club since Nov. 19th. During last Friday's 2-0 loss to Vitesse, Antuna was left on the bench without minutes for the second game in a row.

What this means: Barring an incredible comeback and a sensational Eredivisie run, the attack-minded midfielder is highly unlikely to make the trip to Russia. For now, he'll have to work on earning a starting role with Groningen first.

Orbelin Pineda, MF, Chivas (Mexico)

Why he's here: What has happened to Pineda? The Chivas player, who has been disappointing for several months now, could do little to halt Puebla in the 2-0 loss for Los Rojiblancos last week. There are no signs of the championship hangover from the 2017 Clausura going away at any point in the near future for Pineda.

What this means: The big question now is if the 21-year-old has enough time to rediscover his form. Pineda has an immense amount of potential, but that alone won't be enough to secure a place on the plane to the World Cup.

Jurgen Damm, FW, Tigres (Mexico)

Why he's here: Damm has had a rough start to 2018. Off the field, the winger missed the first two games of the season due to a fireworks-related injury and was also recently involved in a bizarre run-in with the police which led to him hiding out in a restaurant bathroom. On the field, there isn't much to be said about the 25-year-old who has failed to be a game-changer is his three substitute appearances so far.

What this means: Regardless of the misery which has struck him on and off the pitch, Osorio has traditionally been a fan of the devastatingly fast player. However, a continued absence from a starting role for Tigres might be enough for the national team manager to reconsider Damm's place with El Tri.

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

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