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Gerardo Martino used Mexico's first Concacaf Nations League game to experiment with his side and give a couple of inexperienced players a chance at the international stage. Mexico is expected to sweep through Group B in League A and grab one of the semifinal spots of the tournament next year. The player who made the most of his chance was 20-year-old José Juan Macías, who scored two goals in El Tri's 5-1 rout of Bermuda on the road.
Macías made his international debut earlier this month when Mexico hosted Trinidad & Tobago in an unofficial friendly. Macías, on loan with Club León from C.D. Guadalajara, scored in that friendly against T&T and turned that performance into a starting spot against Bermuda, leading the line in a win the catapulted Mexico into first place in Group B having played just one game.
Both finishes from Macías showed the confidence of a player in form. For the first, Macías recognized that the pass out wide to Cristian Calderón was going to be immediately centered in front of the goal. Understanding that, Macías gained position on his defender and then expertly scored first-time on a shot that was not the easiest of finishes.
Macías bagged his brace in the second half, following up on a play and making no mistake in dispatching a rebound for what turned out to be a comfortable win for the visitors.
The timing of Macías' performances could not have been better timed for his international aspirations. Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, who declined a Gold Cup call-up over the summer, is 31 years old and is presumably nearing the end of his international career. Raúl Jiménez did well this summer as the No. 1 striker for Tata, but he wasn't included in the squad for the games against Bermuda and Panama.
Scoring goals when your opportunity arises is the best way to get in the good graces of your national team manager. Macías should get a couple more opportunities over the final three group stage games for Mexico, but he'll then have to prove himself once again if he's given a chance with all of the best players from Mexico called into camp.
Also crucial for his development will be continuing to get consistent game time at the club level. Since moving to León on loan, the striker has scored 16 goals in 30 league games. His eight goals in the 2019 Clasura led all Mexican players despite his youth. Whether his move to León becomes permanent or he returns to Guadalajara or moves on elsewhere, Macías needs to continue to score at a consistent clip to ensure his spot in the Mexican setup.
Tomorrow, Mexico host Panama, and El Tri can essentially wrap up the group with a win at Estadio Azteca. With limited options at the forward position, Macías should be in line for another start. Tata might look to make a couple of changes at other spots in the lineup, but the manager could continue to favor some of the more inexperienced players to give them a chance to shine on the international stage.