Goal's Jon Arnold provides fives thoughts after a young Mexico team came alive in the second half to get a 2-0 victory in a friendly against Senegal.
Mexico started off 2016 with a win, and that will probably be enough for now. It wasn't a glamorous result in Miami, but El Tri eventually took control of the second half and got a 2-0 friendly victory over Senegal thanks to goals from Jesus Duenas and Rodolfo Pizarro.
Let's consider five thoughts after the national team's successful beginning to the year:
This was a good opportunity for fans in Miami to get out to the stadium, wear a funny wig and take a selfie with some pals. It was not an occasion to think big picture.
Of the 17 players who saw action Wednesday night, perhaps three or four will see time in the upcoming World Cup qualification matches against Canada. That's a good thing, really. You want your players to be challenged at as high of a level as possible. Before the match, manager Juan Carlos Osorio said he was hoping for an even stiffer challenge than Senegal. Perhaps he's now relieved that he didn't come up against one. This domestic-based side struggled with the African guests and was lucky to keep a clean sheet.
That's not necessarily reason for concern, nor is the final result reason to think Mexico will have a fruitful year. It was a friendly match that will not be remembered.
Thought just 20, Pachuca attacker Hirving Lozano looks like he's ready to be integrated with Mexico's top team. Osorio handed him a starting role, and Lozano made the most of it. He was the most active player in the first half, drawing a number of fouls in crucial locations. He continued to trouble Senegal with his speed and vision in the second half, and eventually his hard work paid off with an assist to club teammate Pizarro as the match was drawing to a close.
Lozano's talents will be utilized in Brazil as Mexico looks to defend its gold medal this summer, so he won't be competing for a place at the Copa America. But Osorio might be tempted to name him to another senior roster for the upcoming qualifiers. He won't crack the starting lineup, but he would provide a versatile option off the bench.
When Osorio names his starting XI for the first qualifier against Canada in March, it's possible he'll have four different names than the ones that started against Senegal. Still, this back line's vulnerability both to long balls and counterattacks is reason for concern.
Yasser Corona had a poor night, and Gerardo Flores doesn't seem to be a viable option for the national team on the outside. After giving him the captain's armband, Osorio hauled Nestor Araujo off at the break. Jorge Torres Nilo, who had an opportunity to put his stamp on the left back position, wasn't as effective as he's been with Mexico in the past. The Tigres fullback still could force his way into the team, especially if Osorio views Porto standout Miguel Layun as a right-sided player, but it wasn't pretty. You'd like to know that in case of injury or suspension there are players waiting in the wings who can do the same job Layun or Hector Moreno can do. That doesn't look to be the case.
Things solidified in the second half, with Chivas center back Carlos Salcedo continuing to deserve consideration for more minutes, but despite the shutout it was a difficult night for the Mexico defense.
Jesus Corona's form has slipped noticeably since he started for Mexico at the Copa America in 2015, but if he can continue turning in the type of performances he did Wednesday, he could fight back onto the list for this summer's Copa America Centenario — a more prestigious position since Mexico sent its top team to the Gold Cup in the summer.
His save in the first half after Yasser Corona's poor play on a ball as the last man back was top notch, and Corona came off his line when needed to make plays with his feet as well as his hands.
Much was made about Alejandro "Pikolin" Palacios getting his first call-up to the national team, but he still wasn't able to get his first cap. Osorio might have planned to put the Pumas goalkeeper between the posts but stuck with the Cruz Azul shot stopper. He rewarded the manager with a clean sheet, despite several shaky moments from the back line in front of him.
We're still getting a feel as to who Osorio will regularly call, which players he'll lean on and even how he'll line up the squad (the announced 4-4-2 morphed into his typical 4-3-3). Some players, like Palacios and forward Henry Martin, were surprise calls but didn't even get onto the pitch. One of the most eyebrow-raising calls, Monterrey midfielder Candido Ramirez, not only got his first ever cap but put in a lovely assist to Duenas to open the scoring.
But not every player who the Colombian tactician brought in excelled. Yasser Corona was poor in his third match with Mexico. Araujo didn't give any reason to believe he'll be a normal integrant.
Like any manager, Osorio will try some things that will work and some that doesn't. So far, he's had more marks in the pro side than in the con.