Young Attackers Prove They Can Make Impact During Mexico's Busy 2016

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Young Attackers Prove They Can Make Impact During Mexico's Busy 2016
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Mexico men's national football team's match against Senegal on Wednesday night at Marlins Park was used by manager Juan Carlos Osorio to evaluate the players on the fringe of the first team and the young players coming through the system.

El Tri may not have played the sexiest match of football, but a few players were able to put their talents on display in Miami to leave a positive impression on the new Mexico boss.

The player who shined the brightest in the 2-0 victory over Senegal was 20-year-old Pachuca star Hirving Lozano. In his debut for the senior team, Lozano posed a constant threat to the Senegal back four on the left and right sides of the pitch.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, the young attacker had to wait until the 87th minute to contribute to a goal, when he distributed a ball into the middle of the penalty area for club teammate Rodolfo Pizarro to finish off.

Lozano's emergence may not directly influence the first team when they take to the pitch to play Canada in a pair of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers on March 25 and 29, but it could have a major impact on the squad that heads to Rio 2016 Olympics.

Not only is 2016 a massive year for the first team with World Cup qualifying and the Copa America Centenario, but El Tri are looking to make their mark at the youth level with a second consecutive Olympic gold medal.

The 2012 Olympic squad featured the likes of Hector Herrera, Diego Reyes, Raul Jimenez and Giovani Dos Santos. If Lozano were to extend his form into the summer, he could find himself in a key role for El Tri in their quest to repeat.

In addition to Lozano, Pizarro and Candido Ramirez made immediate impacts off the bench in Wednesday's victory. Within minutes of entering the pitch, Ramirez provided an assist on the opener netted by Jesus Duenas, while Pizarro was on the receiving end of Lozano's assist in the 87th minute.

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Due to the immense talent ahead of them on the depth chart that includes Dos Santos, Jimenez, Carlos Vela, Oribe Peralta and Javier Hernandez, the trio of impressive youngsters may not crack the 23-man squad for the first team anytime soon. But if one of the star attackers were to suffer an injury or dip in form, Osorio now has plenty of options to chose from to replace that player.

Duenas was the standout star in midfield for El Tri as he commanded the middle of the park and broke through a pair of defenders to score in the 73rd minute. The 26-year-old from Tigres in Liga MX could be selected as an overage player for the Olympic roster, or he could end up providing El Tri with more depth at the position in the matches leading into the Copa America Centenario.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Despite all the positives shown by the young players in the Mexico lineup on Wednesday, the concerns about who will replace the first-team defenders remained. Yasser Corona provided us with a blooper reel of errors, while Nestor Araujo and Gerardo Flores didn't impress a ton.

Many fans wanted Carlos Salcedo to see significant playing time on Wednesday. He didn't do anything wrong in his appearance off the bench, but the 22-year-old didn't face a challenge in the second half from the Senegal attack due to Mexico's dominance in possession.

Although it was a friendly that witnessed little cohesion from Mexico as a unit, Osorio was able to get a read on who from Wednesday's squad will be key contributors in 2016. With three crucial events ahead over the next six months, Osorio will need young players like Lozano to make some kind of impact throughout the year for 2016 to be judged as a success across all levels of Mexican football. 

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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