SAN LUIS POTOSI — The final push begins Friday as Mexico looks to become the most successful team ever in the Hex.
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio's men already are qualified for the World Cup, but rather than take these two games off, Osorio has called in his top team.
Pleasantly for Osorio, nearly everyone is available with a fully fit squad, though there are still a few worries about Carlos Salcedo, who only recently returned from the injury he suffered in the Confederations Cup.
Here are three potential Mexico starting XIs:
At the moment, this looks like the most probable Mexico starting lineup next July. Guillermo Ochoa looks to have locked down the starting goalkeeper spot, while the midfield has shown its quality during previous encounters. Chicharito almost certainly will be the center forward, barring something drastic happening, and Hirving Lozano and Jesus Corona both are in excellent form.
It's a bit more complicated at the back, where Hector Moreno's spot is the only one that seems certain. The right side of defense is more complicated. Diego Reyes needs to settle in a spot, and right center back could be the one. Edson Alvarez, Reyes and Salcedo have been rotating through the right back spot, but I think Alvarez's emergence and positive performances make him the best option at that spot for now.
Osorio said Thursday that the coaching staff is tempted to try for the first time to play two left-footed players in the interior to create more volume on the left side of attack and pressure the right side of the Trinidad and Tobago attack.
This lineup may not be exactly what Osorio is after but still accomplishes what he has in mind. Layun can get up the left side and provide crosses for Chicharito while Guardado and Dos Santos in the middle both able to play balls wide with their left foots. For good measure it includes Giovani dos Santos and Carlos Vela, who also can move the ball to the other side.
Osorio also said players who don't often get opportunites could see time against Trinidad and Tobago. There aren't too many players lacking international experience in the squad, but Pachuca midfielder Erick Gutierrez may be the player with the most to prove if he's going to make the final roster for Russia. Jesus Gallardo at left back (editors note: Gallardo was rule out before the match) and Elias Hernandez, who is on fire with Leon at the moment, might be other players with fewer caps who El Tri's coaching staff looks to get involved.