El Tri wins as Martino defends training regimen

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El Tri v Guatemala

Sebastián Córdova was Man of the Match for Mexico against Guatemala, recording a goal and an assist. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

El Tri makes quick work of Guatemala in first game of 2020

Team Mexico returned to action after a 316-day hiatus, easing past Guatemala 3-0 in a friendly at Estadio Azteca Wednesday night.

Henry Martín, Orbelín Pineda and Sebastián Córdova found the net in the first half and Mexico put it in cruise control after that. El Tri failed to generate much offense in the second half and coach Gerardo Martino can’t be too happy about that.

Still, it was nice to see the team back in action again. And greater challenges await. El Tri was set to depart for the Netherlands on Thursday for two matches.

However, this October FIFA window is becoming one giant headache.

El Tri is scheduled to play against the Dutch in Amsterdam on Oct. 7 and against Algeria in The Hague on Oct. 13. Eight of the players named to the squad will miss the upcoming Matchday 13 games. Liga MX clubs are also worried about player fatigue, especially those with multiple players chosen for the Europe trip.

The itinerary would have El Tri returning late on Oct. 14 with Matchday 14 scheduled to begin on Oct. 15. The Chivas are particularly concerned since the Guadalajara derby against Atlas is set for Saturday, Oct. 17.

Before “Tata” named his roster for the Europa trip, Liga MX teams frantically lobbied the national federation to have some of their players selected for the Under-23 training camp instead of the senior El Tri. The U-23 camp takes place in Mexico as that team prepares for the Olympic Games, so those players would be available for Matchday 13.

Even MLS clubs sought to discourage selection of its players because upon return to the United States those individuals would have to quarantine for at least two weeks, forcing them to miss several games.

The Chivas front office was among the most vociferous of Liga MX clubs as five of its players were called up for last week’s training sessions ahead of the game against Guatemala. Some reports hinted that strikers J.J. Macías and Alexis Vega were miffed at management for trying to block their invitations since both are eager to get exposure in Europe.

Heading into the summer, a Macías transfer to Europe was seen as a sure thing. Agents for the pair had even sent out notices to clubs in Europe advising them that their clients would be in Holland.

As it turned out, Guadalajara defender Gilberto Sepúlveda is the only Chivas player who will be on the El Tri plane. Coach Martino thinks the 21-year-old could be a natural successor to Héctor Moreno, another left-footed central defender.

Cruz Azul coaches no doubt breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday after it was announced youngsters Santi Giménez and Roberto Alvarado will report to Jaime Lozano’s U-23 camp in Mexico City on Oct. 5. That will make up for the loss of midfielder Luis Romo who departs for Europe with El Tri on Thursday night.

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