First Mexico cap, first international goal, first IMDB credit?
It's been an exciting month for 20-year-old Jose Juan Macias.
You could see the on-field accomplishments coming. Macias has been on a steady rise since his debut with Chivas in the summer of 2017. Now with Leon, his six goals put him in a tie for sixth place in the top scorer charts and only one of the pace of Alan Pulido for being the top scoring Mexican in Liga MX.
It was only natural that Mexico manager Tata Martino would call him in for last week's experimental friendly against Trinidad & Tobago before bringing him back in for Mexico's CONCACAF Nations League campaign, which begins Friday against Bermuda and continues next week against Panama.
Becoming a movie star? That was completely off the radar. But there he is in episode four of Amazon's new "Inside Borussia Dortmund" series. BVB's chief scout Markus Pilawa is explaining his job and pulls up a scouting tool as he says “There are no hidden players anymore. Everyone knows everyone. That’s the big challenge for me. We have to take more risks. We have to pick up more young talents and develop them into top players."
Then he settles in to watch Macias' goals from the Clausura, encouraging sporting director Michael Zorc to "Sit down, enjoy ... and open your coffers," as footage of the Mexican's goals against Pumas and Necaxa last season plays.
Dortmund are not the only team to have enjoyed what they have seen when they have taken a look at Macias. Eintracht Frankfurt scouts kept an eye on him at the Under-20 World Cup, and reports of a potential move to Spain or England only intensified after several international scouts were spotted at El Tri's friendly against T&T last week, in which Macias scored the first goal of a 2-0 win.
It is no wonder teams like what they see from Macias. His goal against the Soca Warriors showed a hint of his promise, as he pressured one defender near the center circle, then moved on to the next after forcing the pass. That led to an error, and Macias robbed the defender of the ball and was off to the races. Then, when it seems like he may be chased down, he slams on the brakes, sending defenders stumbling and giving him the window of opportunity needed to slip a low, left-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net.
A high work rate, above-average speed and an ability to finish strongly in a variety of ways have made Macias the most exciting Mexico player to break out in 2019. It is also why it would be no surprise to see Macias get a starting nod in the Bermuda match.
Martino consistently has said that while some experienced players will take part in El Tri's campaign in the new tournament, he is also looking to see the next generation.
"We've made our call-up and are trying to start giving participation to the young players. That's the idea. You have to compete, try to win this tournament since it's really similar - not in the format but with the competitors - to the Gold Cup. You have to keep growing in some way, and that's why there are 13 players that were in the game against Trinidad and Tobago last week."
Asked why he didn't bring in Chicharito, Martino backed Macias by saying he could fill the center forward role. He better be able to, because there are no other players for that position in the squad, and Martino's system demands a talented No.9 like Raul Jimenez or Chicharito, who not only can finish but will help the overall cause by pressing and dropping between lines to show for center backs when they have the ball at their feet.
It is a big vote of confidence for a player who is yet to appear in an official game for Mexico and only made his senior debut last week. Yet, Martino sees no issue in giving Macias his shot, perhaps calm in the fact that Hirving Lozano, Jesus "Tecatito" Corona or Hector Herrera can step up when needed against teams like Bermuda, but more likely happy with the video he has seen when scouting Macias and what he has seen in person from the forward at Leon and with the youth national teams.
If Macias can continue his rise, it may not be long until he is starring for a team like Dortmund or Sevilla. This time, maybe it will even be on purpose.