Pulido, Fabian, Gio, and Aldrete Have Plenty to Prove in El Tri Friendlies
November's friendlies for El Tri are meaningless on paper. But Pulido, Fabian, Gio and Aldrete could secure their places on the team for the World Cup qualifying matches.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
On Thursday afternoon, the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) released its 23-man roster for El Tri's upcoming October friendlies against New Zealand and Panama.
Although it's usually fair to think of these exhibitions as simple cash grabs that are held in the United States, October's friendlies will provide much more than just revenue from overpriced parking and thousands of sales for Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez jerseys.
For manager Juan Carlos Osorio, the friendlies against New Zealand and Panama will give the coach two final opportunities to utilize fringe and backup options before November's World Cup qualifying matches. Some of November's guaranteed starters, like Miguel Layun, Andres Guardado, and Hernandez, have been left off the roster to make room for others who will have 180 minutes, at the most, to make a case for themselves.
With that in mind, let's take a look at four Mexican players who have the most to gain from the friendlies on October 8th and the 11th.
Is the Pulido hype real? Better yet, is the hype still alive?
Back in January of 2014, the striker exploded onto the national team scene in his debut game for El Tri, scoring a hat trick in a 4-0 win against South Korea.
That summer, Pulido forced his way from Tigres to Greece. Subsequent disputes with his former Mexican club over a potential breach of contract are are part of why he has played sporadically for Levadiakos and Olympiakos. And without regular playing time in Europe, the striker has inadvertently distanced himself from the national side.
Last month, the 25-year-old made his way back to Mexico after signing a contract with Chivas. He now has gained his first call-up to the national team since 2014. Whether the striker was being punished or not by the FMF for his previous problems with Tigres, Pulido has a chance to regain his place from two years ago.
Three weeks ago, Fabian was a backup option for a less-than-exciting Bundesliga club. A call-up seemed laughable, and there seemed to be no indication that he was anywhere near being on Osorio's radar. Today, the midfielder is on fire for Eintracht Frankfurt, with two goals and two assists in his last three games.
Like Pulido, there was once plenty of hype surrounding Fabian, especially after he scored a bicycle kick goal against Barcelona in 2011. Unfortunately, his moments of brilliance were far too infrequent, and he had to wait until earlier this year to get his first chance at playing in Europe.
If Fabian can maintain his recent momentum, the 27-year-old will not only be able to hold onto a starting spot for his club, but also potentially for his country. Given Hector Herrera's recent lack of energy in the midfield, a good showing by Fabian could convince Osorio to make a change.
Thanks to numerous thrilling performances from Porto's Miguel Layun, many Mexico fans have justifiably forgotten about fellow left-back Adrian Aldrete.
After he emerged as Mexico's best player in the 2015 Copa America, Aldrete struggled to make his way back to the national team, and later lost his starting role with Santos Laguna to newcomer Jorge Villafaña.
The 28-year-old has benefitted from a summer move to Cruz Azul and is once again playing first team minutes in the Mexican top flight. Luckily for Aldrete, his only competition in the current El Tri call-up is Tigres' Jorge Torres Nilo, currently one of least popular players on the national side after two subpar performances earlier this month.
As for Aldrete, the Cruz Azul player should be able to garner a No.2 spot at left-back for Mexico if he is able to shine against Panama and/or New Zealand. Who knows? If Layun takes over for the injured Paul Aguilar at right-back, Aldrete might even steal a spot as a starter in Osorio's squad.
Giovani dos Santos
Following a highly-impressive run with the Los Angeles Galaxy this MLS season, Dos Santos has made his highly-anticipated return to El Tri.
Although the striker/attacking midfielder remains a favorite for many who continue to worship his goal in the final of the 2011 Gold Cup, the 27-year-old has taken his fair share of criticism for moving to MLS at the peak of his career.
Whether fans are frustrated Dos Santos never fulfilled his potential in Europe, or just simply annoyed that he's playing in the United States, Dos Santos has constantly had to win over doubters since his move to MLS.
That said, if Dos Santos is able to transition some of his MLS goal-scoring magic over to El Tri, he should be able to win back many supporters who are still bitter about his departure from Europe in 2015. Whether certain fans want to admit it or not, the Galaxy player is still young enough to fight for an important spot on Mexico's next World Cup qualifying squad.
Want to read more stories like this from VICE Sports? Subscribe to our daily newsletter.