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Luis Suarez Leads Uruguay to 4-1 Win Over Mexico in Friendly
Taking on an inexperienced Mexico squad, Uruguay had no trouble showcasing its talent with a 4-1 victory in Friday’s friendly at Houston’s NRG Stadium.
Using most of the roster that made it to the 2018 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals in Russia, Uruguay had three goals in the first 40 minutes.
Luis Suarez found the net twice in the first half, including one on a perfectly-placed free kick that fooled everyone on the Mexico side.
This was Uruguay’s first action since losing to France in the World Cup—the country’s lone defeat in nine matches this year. Mexico used this match as a test for the future, with 11 players on the roster aged 23 or under.
Per ESPN.com, of the 24 players on Mexico’s roster, nine of them had zero caps on their resume. This was a test to see how the future stars were going to fare under the bright lights in front of a huge crowd.
Diego Lainez, Roberto Alvarado and Jonathan Gonzalez were among the players who received their first call-up to the national team.
one of them were able to make a significant impact against Uruguay, though all of them saw action as substitutes for interim manager Ricardo Ferretti.
After an unceremonious exit in the round of 16 at the 2018 World Cup—the seventh straight time the team has failed to get past that stage—Mexico made wholesale changes to its roster. There is a plan in place to make things better, even if the short-term results look like what happened Friday.
Luis Suarez Silences Critics with Dazzling Effort
ESPN.com’s Graham Hunter wasn’t shy about criticizing Suarez’s performance with Barcelona during UEFA Champions League play last season, when he finished with one goal in 12 matches:
“Sadly, however, there’s another element, one that explains why Barcelona wanted to add [Antoine] Griezmann to a squad that were already La Liga and Copa del Rey winners.
Mexico’s Youth Movement Needs More Time
Even though this wasn’t the result Mexico was hoping for, there are positive takeaways from the match.
Raul Jimenez, one of the few experienced veterans on the roster, scored the team’s lone goal on a penalty kick.
“Last season, the normally prolific centre-forward had scored three times in 15 competitive matches by deep into November. The SOS signals were loud and clear. Worse, Suarez’s touch, his timing and his sharpness all looked like they’d deserted him. He was frustrated, confused and hard to watch.”
Graham pointed to Suarez’s meniscus injury that required surgery as one reason for his struggles, but then he went further in his assessment of the Uruguay star’s talents.
“This guy remains an extraordinary footballer,” Graham wrote. “But Father Time scythes down our capabilities little by little, and not only were Barcelona well within their rights to plan ahead, but also, the harsh fact is that their problem is going to increase rather than disappear.”
Suarez is 31 years old and likely nearing the end of his physical peak, but Friday was a strong reminder of how dominant he can still be.
His penalty kick near the end of the first half was a thing of beauty.
This was the showing Suarez needed to have against a team he should have picked apart. It’s a confidence-booster for him and alleviates any concern Uruguay may have to start moving ahead without its superstar striker.
Mexico Needs to Settle on New Manager
While the youth movement in Mexico is a good thing, keeping Ferretti as interim manager isn’t what this team needs.
Leading up to Friday’s match, Ferretti told reporters at a press conference he wasn’t committing full-time to Mexico because of his other job:
“The reason [for not wanting to be Mexico coach] is that last month I started a new three-year contract [with Tigres]. Continuity in a Mexican team is almost impossible and Tigres have given it to me and with these three years I’ll complete 11 years in the same institution. Do you remember if that has ever happened in Mexican football? That loyalty between us is very important.”
Ferretti is 100 percent correct. Juan Carlos Osorio turned down a contract extension after the World Cup, leaving El Tri in a lurch. He did leave on a high note with a 1-0 victory over Germany in group play in Russia.
Including Ferretti, Mexico is on its sixth head coach since 2010. A lack of continuity from the top is going to make it more difficult for budding stars like Lainez and Gonzalez to hit their stride and carry the team to a new place.
Ferretti has another job he is committed to, so the decision-makers with El Tri need to figure out their long-term answer at head coach soon.