Mexico: What Alan Pulido Must Do to Secure a Spot in El Tri's World Cup Squad

Karla Villegas GamaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2014

CARSON, CA - MARCH 23:  Alan Pulido #19 of Mexico celebrates after scoring a goal in the first half against Trinidad and Tobago during the second day of 2012 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying at The Home Depot Center on March 23, 2012 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Alan Pulido emerged from his cocoon in 2011, when he represented Mexico U-20 squad. Almost three years later, he received his first cap for the senior team and is looking to secure a ticket for Brazil 2014.

At age 22, the Tigres striker struggled to get continuity in the Liga MX, despite his success with Mexico's youth side.

He marveled in the U-20 CONCACAF Championship, where he scored three times to help El Tri qualify for the U-20 World Cup.

His performance and good pace sent him straight to Luis Fernando Tena's squad, which ultimately won all the tournaments they entered in 2012.

His first test was the Olympic qualifying tournament, and he did not let down.

He scored in his first appearance against Trinidad and Tobago, and in the next match in front of Panama, he scored his first hat-trick. Pulido shared the top scorer honors with Marco Fabian, with a total tally of five.

Along came the Toulon Tournament, where he was more a strategic player than a finisher, although he did score once in the final match against Turkey to seal Mexico's 3-1 victory.

Despite his performance throughout the preparation process for the 2012 Olympics, Pulido did not make the final list, and Tena preferred to call Oribe Peralta for the starting position.

Things were not right with Tigres either. In the 2012 Apertura, he appeared 14 times but only started three of them. His goal count was far from impressive and only managed to put the ball away three times.

The 2013 Clausura was even worse. He played seven games due to Emmanuel Villa and Luis Garcia's superb form.

It was until that year's Apertura when coach Ricardo Ferretti gave him the opportunity to prove himself.

Pulido went back to his old self by scoring nine goals, which set him as Tigres' starting striker, a position he holds up to now.

El Tri coach Miguel Herrera noticed the 22-year-old recent performances and capped him for the friendly against South Korea.

It was Pulido's first call for the senior team and he debuted in style. He bagged a hat-trick that left Mexico's staff, media and fans wondering if he was capable of putting a fight with Oribe Peralta and Javier Hernandez for the striker position.

Pulido may be getting a lot of minutes with Tigres, but he is not scoring. His club is going through a bad time and sits 15th in the general table, with a 1-4-3 record and only three goals for.

In his favor, Peralta is not putting the ball away either. Like Pulido, the Santos footballer has one goal to his count in the current tournament.

Hernandez may have a better record, but he is not playing regularly with Manchester United.

What Pulido must do is take advantage of every single minute he receives with El Tri because there is already another striker in better shape right now and he is lurking: Marco Fabian.

Although Fabian has yet to be capped, he has stated that he is working hard toward achieving the goal, something he is backing by being the top Mexican scorer of the 2014 Clausura.

Pulido needs to stay atop and exploit Herrera's 5-3-2 system. He is used to taking over the attacking zone, with an attacking midfielder or second striker behind him.

He is a very intelligent player who understands when he needs to pass the ball to a teammate who has a better chance to score.

His technique is superb and has a well-educated long-distance shot, but he is also able to shoot from close-range and move inside the box quickly.

If he continues to work on those assets and puts them in practice on the pitch he will surely grab a ticket for the World Cup.


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