With “El Tri” officially qualified to the World Cup, will we see a full-strength Mexican starting lineup facing Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras in October? Or will Osorio make the kind of wild, unexpected and at times outright illogical lineup changes he has gotten us used to?
With only two more matches to be played, Mexico aim at securing the first place in the qualifiers and don't have much to lose. For the rest of the teams, however, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
With a table as volatile as it stands now, it is likely that we will get last second definitions as to which team classifies to the World Cup, who gets the spot in the inter continental playoffs, and who stays home to drown in a sea of tears.
That being said, there is actually a slight chance that Mexico will be in a position to bail out — or condemn — the USMNT very much in the way the American side saved its southern neighbor with two last minute goals against Panama four years ago that propelled Mexico into the last world championship. Here's a video of a Mexican sports broadcaster celebrating USMNT's goals that night.
Will this possibility determine how Osorio will pick his cards for the last two clashes?
Let’s take a second to think this through. Over the 38 games and almost three years coaching Mexico, Osorio has not once repeated a starting eleven. Moreover, in the last two matches against Panama and Costa Rica he made eight changes to the starting lineup.
While many criticize this system on the basis that no defined playing style can be attained when you radically alter lineups every match, Osorio remains faithful to his philosophy. He has even said that las “rotaciones” –which is the Spanish for his tactical alterations– constitute a “life principle” to him. He even declared that such system of competition has allowed players like Hirving Lozano to rise to the level of Carlos Vela and “Tecatito” Corona.
Chances are Osorio won’t give a rat’s derriere about the USMNT and that, although some “rotaciones” are sure to take place, we will see more of players like Ochoa, Herrera, Jiménez, and Lozano, who are some of the few lucky enough to have seen constant action lately. One can only guess whether other players like Orbelín Pineda, Jesús Dueñas or Rodolfo Cota will finally get an opportunity to prove their worth.
Most likely the USMNT will take its fate into its own hands and will not need Mexico to return the favor. But one thing is certain: the only consistent element under Osorio is change. So, as they say, expect the unexpected.