Martino's management of Mexico's talent conveyor belt key to hopes of future success

Comments()
Tata Martino Mexico Trinidad and Tobago
Hector Vivas
Jonathan dos Santos had to pull out of November's El Tri matches against Panama and Bermuda but there was a ready-made replacement for the midfielder

Was Tata Martino around Atlanta long enough to pick up some American football terminology?

The Mexico national team manager, and ex-Atlanta United coach, has embraced something you hear often touted by the often-gruff leaders on the gridiron: A philosophy of 'next man up'.

Jonathan dos Santos on Wednesday had to pull out of camp because of an injury, but while Mexico will want him to recuperate well for 2020, it's largely not a concern.

Martino brought in Monterrey midfielder Carlos Rodriguez from the Mexico U-22 team preparing for the Olympics. Rodriguez himself is replaced on that team by Pachuca's Pablo Lopez. 

It's a conveyor belt of talent the coach is hoping he can continue to develop.

If El Tri have to suffer an injury in any position, it would be the two-way midfielder role performed not only by Dos Santos and Rodriguez but also Andres Guardado, Erick Gutierrez and other capable players in the pool.

Yet even in other departments, Martino is looking to get a similar level of depth.

His strategy of bringing in mostly young players for the CONCACAF Nations League – supplemented with a few Europe-based players, most of whom have played in the World Cup – is leading to an impressive number of players who have international experience.

Tata Martino Mexico PS

When Chivas defender Hiram Mier had to pull out of the November camp, he was replaced by his club teammate Gilbert Sepulveda.

Would either of those Guadalajara defenders be on a roster for a World Cup qualification match or even have any shot at heading to Qatar? At the moment, no.

But by bringing them in, seeing how they work and showing them what he wants from them, Martino is setting El Tri up for the future.

You can see it in his forward selection as well.

While there are rumors of a suspension for Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez (rumors that are yet to be addressed), Martino saw no need to call in Raul Jimenez for the first set of Nations League games.

Jose Juan Macias seized his chance and scored multiple goals for the national team and the 20-year-old has been rewarded with a call-up to this set of fixtures.

Jose Juan Macias Mexico

Jimenez is around this time, but Hirving Lozano is not. There are players there to counsel and to lead but there is not the full competition of Mexico's best 23 players.

We know Martino is concerned not just with his job at present, but also how Mexico performs in the future. That's the nature of the job.

We saw in 2018 what Mexico's ceiling is – the team played well in Russia, but ultimately blew its opportunities to get to a fifth game. The player pool wasn't deep enough. They needed to do better.

Article continues below

Now, Martino is trying to make that happen, not only with his senior camps but also with the preparations for the Olympics, as he allows Mexico U-23 coach Jaime Lozano the opportunity to utilize some of the players he likely would've called were they not building chemistry with the squad that will look to qualify in Guadalajara early next year and then win gold in Tokyo.

With his approach to the Nations League and his focus on the Olympics, we're seeing Martino make his best efforts to establish a true conveyor belt of talent – the kind of team in which replacements are playing at levels just as impressive as the players originally included in the squad.

If the belt can get up and running, Mexico may finally be able to take the next step forward on the global level.

Close