Before the final World Cup qualifying round (The Hexagonal) begins in November, Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio will have two friendlies in early October to prepare for the matches. Although the opponents, New Zealand and Panama, aren't the most intimidating rivals, Osorio will surely test out several key and fringe players who are still fighting for a starting role on El Tri's roster. With only 18 days left until the first friendly against New Zealand on October 8th in Nashville, let's take a look at some of the recent best and worst performances from some of Mexico's most noteworthy players.
Carlos Salcedo, DF, Fiorentina (Italy)
Why he's here: Last Thursday, Salcedo looked composed and confident in his debut for Fiorentina. During the 0-0 Europa League draw against PAOK Salonika, the defender proved to be an asset in the backline with his interceptions and accurate passing. What this means: Salcedo's first minutes are a good sign for Mexico fans. After worries about a possible partner for Hector Moreno in the center of El Tri's defense, Salcedo has the potential to eventually take over a starting role. As for his time abroad, Fiorentina has at least five more Europa League matches that will allow him to make a name for himself.
Marco Fabian, MF, Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany) Why he's here: Fabian was on fire for Eintracht Frankfurt in Saturday's home game against Bayer Leverkusen. Thanks to a goal and an assist from the Mexican, Fabian led the team to a 2-1 win. What this means: After looking like a bench option for manager Niko Kovac, the former Chivas player proved his worth over the weekend. The big question now is if the 27-year-old can maintain consistency. Fabian has always shown flashes of brilliance but in the past has struggled to consistently string together multiple good performances in a row.
Elias Hernandez, MF, Leon (Mexico)
Why he's here: After a slow start to the 2016 Apertura, Hernandez has recently looked like one of Leon's best players. During Saturday's impressive 2-0 away victory over America, the 28-year-old provided the assist on Leon's second goal of the match. What this means: With one goal and three assists in his last four league games, Hernandez is once again looking like one of the best midfielders in Mexico. Unfortunately for the Leon player, he will need to be near-perfect in order to rise above El Tri's plethora of talented midfielders and wingers.
Jonathan dos Santos, MF, Villarreal (Spain)
Why he's here: After returning from an injury, Dos Santos was Villarreal's best player in his first start of the season last Thursday. In the 2-1 Europa League victory over FC Zurich, the midfielder assisted on Villarreal's first goal and scored the second in the Spanish side's narrow win. What this means: A call-up to the national team awaits. Despite some of the animosity that his family might have with the FMF (Mexican Football Federation), both parties must make amends and incorporate the midfielder who could easily be a starter for El Tri.
Raul Lopez, DF, Pachuca (Mexico)
Why he's here: Following an exciting start to the tournament that included an important role for Pachuca, Lopez has mostly become a backup option since returning from the Olympics. During Saturday's 2-2 draw against Tijuana, the 23-year-old was left on the bench. What this means: Lopez will have to wait to gain some minutes before returning to El Tri. If he continues to ride the bench with Pachuca, Osorio will likely think twice about bringing in the player who is supposed to compete with Club America's Paul Aguilar for a spot at right-back.
Hector Herrera, MF, Porto (Portugal)
Why he's here: Herrera watched from the bench while Porto drew 0-0 against Tondela on Sunday. The 26-year-old has looked tired in recent weeks for Porto and also the national team. What this means: The captain might need another match on the bench to recover from his apparent lack of energy. The Herrera who once loved to pull of crafty and skillful moves in the midfield has been absent in the past several weeks. With a near-guaranteed starting role for Mexico, El Tri fans should be content with the midfielder getting a well-deserved rest.
Santiago Palacios, FW, Pumas (Mexico) Why he's here: Palacios has yet to make the same kind of impact that he made in the Netherlands. A little over a year after finishing as the Dutch 3rd-division top goalscorer, Palacios has moved to a place on Pumas' bench. The striker failed to earn minutes in Pumas' 3-1 loss to Santos Laguna on Sunday night. What this means: Palacios will need to time to readjust to the league and is therefore nowhere near Osorio's radar. Before the striker gains a potential surprise call-up to El Tri, he will need regular playing time and goals to at least gain attention from the national team.
Juan Carlos Medina, MF, Tijuana (Mexico) Why he's here: After arriving over the summer from Atlas, the experienced and seasoned midfielder was an expected starter for manager Miguel "Piojo" Herrera. Instead, the 33-year-old has been a backup option who hasn't started in a league game since July 24th. What this means: Medina's minutes in the 2015 Copa America were likely his last for El Tri. The midfielder's move to Tijuana provided an opportunity to find a second wind in his career, but unfortunately for the veteran, Herrera has only given him meager minutes during the past several matches.