Hector Herrera

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Mexicans Abroad: Vela equals MLS record, Lozano left on Napoli bench

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Carlos Vela equalled the MLS single-season goalscoring mark of 31 and can break the record next time out in the season’s final match. Otherwise, it was mostly a struggle for Mexican players overseas, many of whom were left to the substitutes’ bench.

While Lozano rode the bench, Raul Jimenez was starting but failed to find the back of the net for the third straight match, while Chicharito, Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado, and Diego Lainez were all also left among the substitutes, and only Lainez of the bunch even saw the field.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli — For the first time since making his Napoli debut, Chucky Lozano was left on the bench as Napoli topped Brescia 2-1. Dries Mertens scored a goal and Fernando Llorente started up front as Carlo Ancelotti went with a flat 4-4-2 with Piotr Zilinski starting on the left flank.

Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers — Jimenez’s stunning summer form seems to be waning. He played 80 minutes and did not score as Wolves topped struggling Watford 2-0 on Saturday. He was withdrawn in favor of Patrick Cutrone for the final 10 minutes and has not played a full 90 minutes since he last scored against Everton on September 1. He was rested for the League Cup match midweek which Wolves won on penalties over Reading. Wolves returns to Europa League group stage action with a big match against Besiktas on the road.

La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito was left on the bench for the second straight match as Sevilla topped in-form Real Sociedad 3-2. Luuk De Jong was favored over the Mexican as the lone striker this time, although he did not score in the game. Nolito and Lucas Ocampos provided the early goals while Franco Vazquez came off the bench to score the eventual winner. Fellow striker Munir El Haddidi was once again not in the squad, so Chicharito can at least say he’s ahead of the 24-year-old in the pecking order.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — The defender was left on the bench as an unused substitute for the fifth time in six league matches this season, with Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic preferred in central defense as the Madrid derby ended 0-0.

Andres Guardado and Diego Lainez, Real Betis —  Guardado was also left on the bench as an unused substitute, and Real Betis fell to a heavy 5-1 defeat at Villareal. Betis instead started William Carvalho and Sergio Canales in midfield, leaving Guardado left out of action for the third time this season. Betis has seven points in four matches with Guardado on the field, and does not have a win in three without him. Lainez was also left on the bench, but came on for the final 10 minutes for his third appearance of the season, all as a substitute.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — The central defender has started every league match for Celta Vigo thus far, and he again completed the full 90 minutes as his side fell 2-0 at Eibar. He has partnered with Joseph Aidoo for most games this season and while the club has just one win, the defense hasn’t really been the issue, conceding just six goals in six games, while the attack has scored just three goals in that span.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven — Gutierrez made his first appearance since September 1, coming off the bench for the final 11 minutes of a 4-0 win over PEC Zwolle. He picked up a goal during his short stint on the field, scoring the final goal of the match. It is a promising return for Gutierrez who had been in the starting lineup for the first four games of the year before falling out of the side. PSV remains unbeaten in league play this season.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — The 21-year-old was left as an unused substitute as Ajax beat FC Groningen 2-0. Donny van de Beek partnered with 21-year-old Argentine Lisandro Martinez in midfield, leaving Alvarez and Razvan Marin as the odd men out.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito continued as Porto’s starting right-back, making it 60 minutes in the 1-0 win over Rio Ave. Moussa Marega headed Porto in front 12 minutes in and that was all they needed. Corona was yanked after an hour in favor of Wilson Manafa, marking the third time this season in seven starts that Corona did not complete the 90 minutes.

MLS

Carlos Vela, LAFC – Vela bagged the all important 31st goal of the season on the road against Minnesota United, and while the hosts equalized five minutes later to earn a 1-1 draw, it didn’t matter with LAFC already locked in to the #1 seed in the Western Conference. The goal tied Vela for the MLS single-season lead, and can break the record in the season’s final match against the Colorado Rapids next weekend.

Carlos Fierro, San Jose Earthquakes – Fierro came off the bench for the final 10 minutes, but was not able to turn San Jose’s Fortune as the Quakes were stunned by a Jordan Morris winner deep in stoppage time to keep them from moving into a playoff position ahead of Deadline Day. Fierro has started just twice since joining the Earthquakes, otherwise planted on the bench for late substitute appearances. The club has lost six matches in a row.

Jonathan Dos Santos and Uriel Antuna, LA Galaxy – JDS completed his third full 90 minute performance in a row and Antuna started on the wing, but the Galaxy were beaten in a wild match 4-3 by the Vancouver Whitecaps. Dos Santos picked up an assist in the game, feeding Antuna who scored the club’s second goal. The teams traded goals the whole way through, with Vancouver having the last laugh with a 93rd minute winner.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — The 23-year-old completed 59 minutes as Zulte Waregem drew 2-2 with Mouscron to remain eighth in the Belgian league. He played at the bottom of a diamond midfield, withdrawn just before the hour mark for young Abdoulaye Sissako with the club down 2-0, and they completed the comeback without his presence on the field.

Hector Moreno, Al Gharafa   Moreno continues to start for the Qatari side in central defense, but they were downed by visiting Al Sailiya 3-1. After scoring just six minutes in to go in front, Al Gharafa capitulated to the tune of three goals, including two after halftime with the score level at the break. They sit fourth in the Qatar Stars League table.

Juan Gerardo Ramirez Alosno, Roda JC — Alonso was left as an unused substitute for the fifth match in a row as Roda drew with De Graafschap 2-2. It seems Alonso is second fiddle to 28-year-old Timothy Durwael in the left-back position despite having started the first three games of the Dutch second tier season.

Atletico Madrid erases 2-goal deficit in Juventus draw

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s going to like Diego Simeone a little bit less today — if possible — as the Argentine manager engineered a come-from-behind draw to get a measure of revenge for last season’s knockout round ouster.

[ RELATED: Shakhtar 0-3 Man City ]

And Ronaldo won’t be too happy with himself, either, as the Juve star missed a chance to win it in stoppage time, moments after Atletico Madrid had scored the final goal of 2-2 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano.

That left Mexican star Hector Herrera the unabashed hero, as he headed home in stoppage time.

Juve scored a beauty to open it, with Juan Cuadrado spinning a left-footed wonder strike that painted the side netting.

Blaise Matuidi had Juve up 2-0, but Atleti pulled one back via a Stefan Savic header off a set piece in the 70th minute.

That’s when Herrera nodded his goal home.

But Ronaldo… how often has he scored this kind of goal in this competition?

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

‘It’s all right’: Martino pleased about Mexico’s internal competition

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Unlike in the USMNT’s current landscape, there aren’t questions being raised about Mexico’s deficiencies following their 3-0 bashing of their fierce rivals in New Jersey.

The glaring reason for that is based on the fact that Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s side, who have yet to suffer a loss since the Argentine took over in March, are in divine shape. Equally, it’s rare to find El Tri in such a peaceful state when it comes to results, but it’s the team’s current world.

To put the situation in perspective, some of the “tougher” questions being asked on Friday night – by what has always been considered a taxing and pressuring press – were regarding the complications that El Tri’s feisty internal competition for playing time may be giving Martino.

“It’s all right,” the 56-year-old said in respects to his outlook on his current decision making. “It’s what all coaches particularly want [a tough time selecting a starting lineup] – having this kind of difficulties due to abundance [of players] at the time of putting together a game.”

“We have the possibility of playing two friendlies, of playing in a match with some, giving minutes to the majority [of players], without losing sight of what we want which is to win games,” he added.

Assembling a lineup to take on his former team will not pose as difficult, however. Team captain Andres Guardado is expected to fly back home for the birth of his child, who is expected on Monday. Rodolfo Pizarro, who was ruled out of Friday’s hours before the first whistle, is on the verge of being operated on for appendicitis. Monterrey-based players, Luis “Chaka” Rodriguez and Cesar Montes, will return to Tigres and Rayados, respectively, due to injuries.

It is also expected that the players who earned 90 minutes against Gregg Berhalter’s side will not feature against Argentina in San Antonio, making Tata’s selection process that much more straightforward with a number of key players unused on the bench at MetLife Stadium.

Mexico’s positives are coming in bunches – a major reason for the team’s current internal battle for minutes.

For the first time in the Martino era, Atletico Madrid’s recent arrival and longtime El Tri midfielder, Hector Herrera, played side by side with former Porto teammate Jesus “Tecatito” Corona at the national level. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who opted from the Gold Cup due to the birth of his son, joined the national side this time around, too. In other words, some of Mexico’s most valuable assets making a return all at once might be fueling Martino’s conundrum, but is it really that when the results are flooding in like the goals were in New Jersey?

Definitely not – Mexico are currently rejoicing, and it shows on the field.

“We had a few goals in addition to winning the game,” Martino said. “For the first time, Tecatito (Corona) played with Héctor (Herrera), we used even Héctor (Herrera) as a holding midfielder, Javier (Hernandez) returned to the team after what had happened with Paraguay and Chile. [We need] to continue to keep the team working, we are very satisfied.”

Mexico’s player ratings shine after lopsided win against USMNT

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Gerardo “Tata” Martino and Co. picked up exactly where they left off: outlasting their rivals. Ironically, when nothing was on the line expect bragging rights this time around, Mexico played better than in the Gold Cup final over the summer.

[ RECAP: USMNT 0-3 Mexico ]

The Martino era only gets better with every passing day – for now.

Starting XI

Jonathan Orozco — 8 — It’s 2019, and 33-year-old Orozco recorded a clean sheet and a last-minute penalty save with El Tri. I’m sure even he can’t wrap that around his head. Nonetheless, he showed up for the few times he was called upon.

Jorge Sanchez — 7 — Sanchez can, potentially, be an integral part of the team that will compete in the CONCACAF Nation’s League next month. If so, the fullback is heading in with good standing.

Diego Reyes — 5 —  Reyes wasn’t excruciatingly poor, but one could see that he’s been lacking stability at the club level, specifically when he awarded the USMNT a penalty in the dying minutes of Friday’s game.

Hector Moreno — 7 — Despite showing some weaknesses here and there, Moreno is clearly still one of Mexico’s best defenders. (We all know the reason, but I’ll still ask.) Why is he playing in Qatar?

Jesus Gallardo (Off 87′) — 7 — Monterrey’s fullback has grown into quite the player.

Hector Herrera — 8 — Herrera now has more assists with El Tri this year than minutes with Atletico Madrid. That has to change.

Carlos Rodriguez (Off 90′) — 7 — It’s hard to appreciate a player like Rodriguez. Tonight his valiant work on both sides of the field wasn’t mesmerizing, regardless of how much one analyzes it.

Andres Guardado (Off 77′) — 7 — The captain showed glimpses of creativity, but was in the middle of the spectrum the majority of the game.

Roberto Alvarado (Off 76′) — 4 — Alvarado struggled on the field in New Jersey. Period.

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona (Off 70′) — 9 — The last time Tecatito made headlines was for his national team absence. Time to turn the page and enjoy his pristine skillfulness.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (Off 87′) — 8 — It’s refreshing to see Chicharito score, especially when he’s just entered a new chapter in his legendary career.

Subs

 Hirving “Chucky” Lozano (On 70′) — 8 — Lozano is clearly Mexico’s most talented player, and everyone hopes it will remain that way for a long time.

Uriel Antuna (On 76′) — 8 — There is no one who has benefited more from the Martino era – no one.

Erick Gutierrez (On 78′) — 8 — Things have turned around for the PSV Eindhoven man, and a goal will only speed up that healing confidence.

Alexis Vega (On 87′) — n/a — J.J. Macias may be the popular choice, but Vega is the chosen one.

Fernando Navarro (On 87′) — n/a — There’s no way Navarro is complaining about playing three minutes against the USMNT at MetLife Stadium.

Orbelin Pineda (On 90′) — n/a — Any time on the field is better than nothing, I guess.

Atletico Madrid signs Mexican international Hector Herrera

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As expected, Mexican midfielder Hector Herrera has moved from one established Champions League side to another.

La Liga giants Atletico Madrid announced the signing of Herrera on Wednesday, a widely-reported move after the 29-year-old bid farewell to his club Porto on social media the day before, leaving the Portuguese giants after six seasons and nearly 250 appearances, serving as captain last season.

Herrera joins Atletico Madrid on a free transfer after the expiration of his Porto contract, and will have plenty of competition at the Wanda Metripolitano. The club already has Koke, Saul Niguez, and Thomas Partey in the middle of the pitch who all racked up at least 2,700 minutes last season, plus the addition of big-money signing of 24-year-old Marcos Llorente from Real Madrid. Herrera likely joined as a replacement for 22-year-old Rodrigo who left to join Manchester City.

The club announced Herrera’s deal with Atleti is for three years.

The Mexican international owns 70 international caps but was one of the many stars not called into the squad for the 2019 Gold Cup by new head coach Tata Martino, alongside Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, and Jesus Corona. Martino opened the door for a return to the national team on Tuesday, saying that, “Like I’ve said, aside from the case of Carlos, who made a public statement, there is no other player that the doors are closed for.”