Nobody is making any secret about the purpose of Mexico's friendly Wednesday against Senegal. Taking place in the United States outside a FIFA window, the match will help the national team and its partners make money. Still, this match can produce more than simply financial gains for El Tri.
This is the first non-competitive match Juan Carlos Osorio has coached with Mexico. Osorio already has shown he's prone to experimentation, playing usual left back Miguel Layun on the other side in World Cup qualifying and handing Oswaldo Alanis, typically a center back, a start at fullback against El Salvador.
He also showed a proclivity for youth, starting midfielder Jesus Corona and bringing on Raul Lopez and Jurgen Damm as substitutes.
Mexico's new manager is studious and has immersed himself in the nation's player pool since taking over in the fall. Though this match won't be remembered for much, it could be recalled as the game that launched the national team career of a handful of young stars.
Here are five players who are prime candidates to be involved for Mexico not only Wednesday, but also next month's World Cup qualifiers, this summer's Copa America and beyond:
JURGEN DAMM, MIDFIELDER
The ultra-talented Tigres winger already has a goal in the Osorio era, scoring against Honduras two minutes after coming on. Damm is an absolute menace for defenders to deal with and seems bound to be a star not only for Mexico but also for a big European team. It's not exactly a stretch to say he's a player who could be starting for Osorio sooner rather than later.
Well known by many as one of the fastest players in "FIFA 16," Damm is more than just a speedster. The 23-year-old shows an advanced understanding of when to put his head down and use that speed and when he should tee up a teammate with a cross from outside the area. His defensive work needs improvement, but expect to see Damm's cap tally of two grow exponentially this year.
CARLOS SALCEDO, DEFENDER
Hector Moreno has one of the center back spots locked down, but the other position seems up for grabs. It could be Chivas center back Carlos Salcedo's if he wants it. The former Real Salt Lake defender has had a rough start to the Clausura, and might be in this match only after getting a suspension for a red card with his club, but his talent is absolutely there.
Salcedo was getting attention from European teams after joining Mexico at the Copa America in Chile, and it seems he'll make the jump relatively quickly. Salcedo combines the classic tough, physical center back with the modern game's player who is quicker and better on the ball than defenders of days gone by. With those tools and Mexico's apparent need at the position, Salcedo's name will become a fixture on Mexico rosters.
HIRVING LOZANO, MIDFIELDER
Hirving Lozano has been involved with the Mexico Under-20 team, the U-23 team and Pachuca for so long it's easy to forget he's just 20 years old. Lozano is a whirlwind on the ball and can score when it looks like he has no opportunity or angle to put the ball in the back of the net.
This is his first call-up to the senior national team, and Lozano will be eager to impress. But don't expect him to be cowed by the occasion — he has been playing top-level soccer since he was just 18.
ERICK GUTIERREZ, MIDFIELDER
Though not as flashy as his Pachuca teammate, Erick Gutierrez is just as exciting a prospect as Lozano — if not more exciting. He's able to add a long-range goal now and then, but it's Gutierrez's passing and defensive work that really shines. Though he's just 20, he's been starting with the Tuzos for three years. That experience should serve him well if he's to win his first cap Wednesday against the African side.
Mexico seems relatively set in the middle of the park for the moment, especially if Diego Reyes' future is at defensive midfielder, but Guti is a nice depth option who could morph into something more as he continues to develop. He'll be crucial to Mexico's attempt to repeat as Olympic gold medalists this summer.
HENRY MARTIN, FORWARD
Henry Martin is yet to make a huge impact on Liga MX, but he brings a different set of skills to the national team than many of the forwards Mexico currently relies upon. Listed at just 5 feet 4 inches, the Tijuana forward relies on his speed to beat defenders, since he's probably not going to do it in the air.
That's a contrast to players like Javier Hernandez, Oribe Peralta and the only other forward joining Martin on this roster, Eduardo Herrera. Those players use their bodies to get into the right places, scoring from set pieces and crosses. Martin can go at defenders and make chances for himself, something Osorio might value off the bench this summer. If he can quickly grasp Osorio's system, Martin could be a player to provide a literal change of pace for El Tri.
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