Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio brought his players to Miami with one objective in mind. This experimental group faces Senegal on Wednesday night (live, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, FOX Sports GO) in a bid to impress Osorio and stake a claim for a place in the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Canada next month.
Osorio evaluated his players during a training session at Marlins Park on Tuesday, but he plans to run the rule over them keenly during the match. His desire to rotate — as shown in the victories over Honduras and El Salvador in November — opens the door for players to earn their spot in the squad and receive an immediate chance to perform in meaningful matches.
Some players are better positioned to reinforce their claims than others. Here are five players who could find their way onto the field against Canada if they perform well on Wednesday night:
Guadalajara defender Carlos Salcedo
Chivas owner Jorge Vergara allowed just one of his players — promising defender Salcedo — to leave his relegation-threatened club for this midweek friendly. Vergara’s intransigence is intriguing over the long-term (Mexico plays several friendlies outside of FIFA windows each year), but his decision to release Salcedo is a short-term sacrifice to help a player in a position to benefit.
Osorio needs capable, youthful alternatives to augment Rafa Márquez, Héctor Moreno and Diego Reyes in central defense. His reliance on several seasoned campaigners — including Tigres stalwart José Arturo Rivas in this squad — illustrates the need for a fresh look. Salcedo is capable of performing well in these sorts of friendlies. This match offers him an opening to state his claims and underscore his ability to supply a long-term alternative.
Guadalajara defender Carlos Salcedo is only the Chivas player included in this squad after owner Jorge Vergara outlined his opposition to the midweek friendly.
Club León midfielder Luis Montes
Montes continues to hang around on the fringes of the squad after sustaining a serious knee injury on the eve of the 2014 World Cup. His performances with León justify his continued inclusion, but he is trying to improve his station after missing out on the World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and El Salvador in November. His experience is a useful tool in this sort of makeshift friendly, but he must also present a reminder that his ability to create and link in central midfield warrants a place in the squad to face Canada next month.
Tigres UANL winger Jurgen Damm
Osorio named six Tigres players in his initial squad. Damm projects as the most likely to entrench himself with El Tri over the long term, but the promising winger is still trying to find his footing at the international level. His intent, his pace and his technical ability are unquestioned. He just needs to replicate the sort of influence he showed in Honduras — he scored the second goal off the bench in the 2-0 victory in November — when tasked with more responsibility. This encounter provides him with the opportunity to dispel some of those doubts and underscore his potential utility under a coach who prizes traditional wingers.
Tigres UANL winger Jurgen Damm hopes to increase his role with El Tri after scoring a goal off the bench in the 2-0 victory at Honduras in November.
Pachuca forward Hirving Lozano
Lozano is one of three promising Pachuca players hoping to make the transition to the international level. His versatility recommends him ahead of Erick Gutierrez (perhaps the best performer of the three in the nascent Clausura) and Rodolfo Pizarro at the moment, though. The 20-year-old features on either side of midfield or as an attacking midfielder. If everything proceeds according to plan for him, then he stands to benefit from Javier Aquino’s hamstring injury and receive a chance to impress in the process.
Pumas UNAM forward Eduardo Herrera
Liga MX teams continue to prefer imported forwards — particularly from South America — to lead their lines. The decision to look elsewhere for forwards reduces the list of available options when Osorio evaluates potential choices beyond established operators like Javier Hernández, Raúl Jiménez and Carlos Vela.
Herrera offers a different approach than some of the players already in the pool because he functions as a traditional target man. It is a useful tool, particularly for someone projected to serve as a substitute. There isn’t a lot of room for another forward in this squad (Club América forward Oribe Peralta is probably the like-for-like competition and he is an established starter), but Herrera can make the choice more difficult with a good performance here.