Mexico's Hirving Lozano (center) and his teammates signed autographs for the fans at the StubHub Center after a CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship match against Costa Rica on October 2, 2015. (Photo: Mexsport)
CARSON, California -- The chants came down from the stands.
Fans of Mexico were calling for Hirving Lozano to be inserted into Friday night’s game at the StubHub Center. The Tricolor was already beating Costa Rica 2-0 in the first 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship for both, but – regardless of the score -- the supporters came to see the dynamic and speedy Pachuca forward.
They got what they wanted. Lozano came on in the 66th minute for Atlas’ Alfonso Gonzalez, adding even more quality to Mexico’s already explosive and fluid brand of football.
The 20-year-old, who was the joint-top scorer at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship earlier this year, fired a shot on his first touch. He sent a right-footed blast wide left of Costa Rica goalkeeper Darryl Parker’s goal. Two minutes later, Lozano drilled into the hands of a well-positioned Parker.
“I’m just glad I have this opportunity to be part of what this team is trying to do, which is defend the gold medal in the Olympics,” Lozano said. “If I play off the bench or as a starter, it doesn’t matter. I will do what the coach wants and what’s best for our team.”
Mexico manager Raul Gutierrez would not say if Lozano would be in the starting 11 against Haiti on Sunday. Gutierrez is spoiled for choice at forward thanks to the presence of gifted duo Marco Bueno (two goals) and Erick Torres (one goal), who combined for three goals against the Costa Ricans.
“I have the right to choose who I want in the starting line up,” Gutierrez stated. “That is why I kept him on the bench. It’s things you have to choose, but it’s great to have him come off the bench and play great. It’s a good problem to have; the opportunity to be able to choose a line up from a great group of players is a good thing. We will see how the players are after a brief rest. We will see.”
The verdict is already in, though. The fans want to see, once again, Lozano and his mercurial skills.