Home Global Game CONCACAF Canada no match for Lozano’s class

Canada no match for Lozano’s class

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You would have to forgive Canadian fullback Sam Adekugbe if he has a few nightmares on Monday night.

Adekugbe was given the thankless task of trying to mark Mexican forward Hirving Lozano, who loves to lurk on the right wing. And Lozano burned the Canadian time and time again as the Mexicans triumphed 2-0 in group stage play at the CONCACAF U-20 Championships in Jamaica.

The loss drops Canada to 1-1-0 and the goal difference is even.

But, make no mistake, even though Canada had a few scattered chances on counterattacks, the 2-0 scoreline flattered our boys. Had the Mexicans wore their shooting boots — and if goalkeeper Nolan Wirth hadn’t put on a Canadian man-of-the-match performance — the scoreline would have been (deservedly) more severe.

Let’s get back to Lozano. If you were a neutral, his performance was something to see. Lozano shows how far we still have to go in Canada to develop players. Before the tournament began, Canadian coach Rob Gale lamented how few of his players had played meaningful first-team minutes at a professional level. And, on Monday, the Canadians had to try and stare down Lozano, who already has played 17 Liga MX matches this season for Pachuca.

While many of Canada’s players are in MLS academies, Lozano is playing senior matches in a league that’s much tougher than MLS.

Lozano had two glorious chances early, one on a rebound from a Guillermo Martinez shot, another after beating Adekugbe and cutting into the box. Adekugbe was simply run ragged by Lozano, who won ball after ball and was able to get behind the fullback with alarming regularity. There were changes of pace, great two-footed play and composure on the ball.

And, when Lozano finally struck, it was his sheer athleticism that won out. A long ball was launched down the right wing; Adekugbe waited for it to fall. Meanwhile, Lozano, smelling blood, charged hard and timed his leap perfectly. In the air, he cut in front of Adekugbe, won the ball cleanly, and left the defender flat-footed. Lozano cut to the middle of the box and then fired a shot against the grain, smashing the ball inside the near post. It was ballet on the rough dirt that passes for grass in Jamaica.

Lozano’s influence on the game dimmed in the second half, but the Mexicans still kept the Canadians pinned in their own half for most of that stanza. But, after a gathering of four Mexicans in the box could only muster a blocked shot on goal, Canada got a break. Michael Petrasso was played through, and his shot flashed just inches wide of goal.

It would represent Canada’s best chance of the game. The Canadians were outshot 17-6; the Mexicans had a 10-0 (10-0!) advantage in corner kicks. But, the Mexicans fluffed several golden chances in front of Wirth.

With Mexico having such a territorial advantage, the Canadians couldn’t afford to mess up their best chance of the game. But they did.

And, when the injury-time insurance goal was scored by Diego Pineda Juarez, a result that had seemed inevitable from the opening kickoff was sealed.

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2 Comments

  1. Kahkakew Yawassanay

    January 26, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    So more typical Mexican dominance against inferior Canucks,….this is nothing new or surprising because MLS academies, And reserve clubs in USL Pro and even playing in the MLS will NEVER properly prepare these young players to compete against superior athletes from Latin Teams….even development of a national 3rd division semi pro will not help, until the pyramid is fully developed where players can play at the highest levels available from the ages of 12 to 19 progressing from PDL to USL Pro, NASL and maybe MLS only then will these future matches against Mexico stop resembling muggings…..MAYBE!

    Reply

  2. Gonzo

    January 13, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Steven:

    Even for Mexican standards, Hirving is a crack. In his team, Pachuca, he has three more teammates with similar or even better skills than him: Dieter, Pizarro and Jürgen. The last one, followed by EPL/Bundesliga teams because he also has German passport. They have similar skills like Angel Di Maria (former Real Madrid player) and I think they are better than Jesús Manuel Corona (Twente in The Netherlands, linked now to Napoli in Italy). There were another guys: Marco Bueno and Julio Gómez, but their respective careers have dropped for unknown reasons since they were World Champions (Under-17 category). But, on the other hand, I consider that Pachuca is one of the few teams in Mexico who really are working with academies in a outstanding way. Héctor Herrera arose from Pachuca to be exported to Porto (Portugal) and I believe that Hirving, Pizarro, Jürgen and Dieter will be exported in this year to Europe because they will go to “Copa América” in Chile (and it is expected they play that event). As you have pointed out, Canada needs to do some improvements with young talent in the academies. Nevertheless, yesterday I saw three guys with outstanding skills: the goalkeeper, the #16 and, paradoxically, the #3 (who confronts to Lozano yesterday). Canada’s goalkeeper showed very good skills, good sense of location on court, leadership and fast reaction (for instance, a Gordon Banks’s save in the second half). The #16 remembers me the way how Dwayne de Rosario started his professional career. The #3 remembered me the way how Atiba Hutchinson participated with PSV in The Netherlands. I remember that you had a high-class striker, Tomasz Radzinsky who played in Everton (EPL). So, I think you can be also good players but you need more international experience. I mean, most of the players that form the Mexican Under-20 team have had at least 50 or 60 international matches within their academies. 15 years ago, academies and young talent were wasted in a shameful way. Since then, a good work has been done and great results have come.

    Reply

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