Marco Fabian shines for Eintracht Frankfurt, Vela starts for Sociedad
Nobody expected Marco Fabian to be the star of Saturday's Bundesliga match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen.
Before the clash, the midfielder hadn't started for Frankfurt since April 30 and was consistently seen as a backup player for manager Niko Kovac. Even if Fabian received playing time as a substitute, his performance was likely going to be overshadowed in the match by fellow Mexican Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. With his knack for constantly finding the back of the net for Leverkusen, the striker was set to be the talking point for El Tri fans back home.
Instead, it was Fabian who was in charge.
Taking full advantage of his first start of the season for Frankfurt, the 27-year-old provided a goal and an assist during Saturday's 2-1 win over Leverkusen. Although Hernandez found the back of the net as well for his club, his performance was average at best in comparison to his fellow countryman.
For Fabian, the weekend's victory marked a watershed moment in his European career. Kovac took a risk by giving the bench player a start and was paid back handsomely through a well-deserved three points. If the former Chivas player can continue these kinds of games in the next several weeks, he should justifiably earn a return back to Mexico's national team.
With the Guadalajara native taking control of his recent start in Germany, Fabian leads this week's wrap-up of the Mexicans abroad.
Guillermo Ochoa, GK, Granada
Although the goalkeeper allowed two goals, Ochoa was vital for the Granada side that went down to 10 men during last Friday's 2-2 draw against Real Betis. The 31-year-old made several saves that helped secure the point.
After gaining attention from fans who scrutinized a mistake in his previous match, Ochoa emerged with a solid and confident performance on Friday.
Due to Granada's permeable and weak backline, the national team player will have plenty more opportunities to make crucial saves in Spain this year.
Javier Hernandez, FW, Bayer Leverkusen
Chicharito had a bitter-sweet ending to the loss against Frankfurt. Following a goal from the striker in the 60th minute, Hernandez later missed a penalty in the 89th minute that could have clinched a draw.
The striker's opportunity smacked the post and was off by just a couple of inches. Despite the miss, Hernandez should feel happy with the lone goal provided for Leverkusen.
The 28-year-old now has two goals and an assist in his four starts in all competitions for the German club this season.
Pedro Arce Latapi, MF, Veria
Latapi played a total of 72 minutes during Saturday's 2-0 loss at home to AEK Athens in the Greek Super League.
In order to chase a late goal, the midfielder was replaced by the more attack-minded Kristijan Miljevic in the second half.
It's highly unlikely that the 24-year-old isn't anywhere near the radar of the Mexico national team. If the midfielder wishes to gain more attention, he will have to rack up consistent standout performances from one of the smaller clubs in Greece.
Carlos Salcedo, DF, Fiorentina
After receiving his first start for Fiorentina in last Thursday's 0-0 Europa League draw against PAOK, Salcedo was later left on the bench in Sunday's 1-0 league win over Roma,
The 22-year-old looked confident in last week's debut and had no trouble adapting to Fiorentina's three-man backline. With at least five more Europa league matches scheduled for the Italian squad, the recently signed youngster will easily gain more minutes and opportunities this year to make a name for himself in Europe.
Andres Guardado, MF, PSV Eindhoven
Although Guardado and his PSV teammates had more possession and attacking opportunities on Sunday, the visiting Feyenoord side was able to narrowly sneak past them with a narrow 1-0 result. The midfielder played during the first 71 minutes of the loss.
There was little that Guardado could do to avoid the defeat. While the 29-year-old was on the pitch, he was able to dominate the midfield his passing and clearances that initially kept Feyenoord scoreless. Guardado will be eager to help his club bounce back in the upcoming league match against SBV Excelsior this Saturday.
Hector Moreno, DF, PSV Eindhoven
With a total of 67 passes, Moreno was once again the main distributor for PSV in his start over the weekend. Unfortunately, like Guardado, the 28-year-old could little to halt the late goal from Feyenoord.
Despite the loss, Moreno is regaining the form which once made him one of Mexico's most consistent players in Europe. The defender's leadership, presence and tenacity are a sign of good news for any El Tri fans who are worried about the upcoming World Cup qualifying matches in November.
Miguel Layun, DF, Porto
Layun was active on the right flank during Sunday's 0-0 away draw against Tondela. The 28-year-old hasn't gained back his usual spot at left-back for Porto, but has been given the start in the last four games in all competitions as a right-back.
After looking like a backup player at the very beginning of the season, Layun has done an excellent job covering for the injured Maxi Pereira. As for the national team, the agile and hard-working defender should still be the No. 1 option at left-back for Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio.
Hector Herrera, MF, Porto
Following last Wednesday's Champions League start in the 1-1 draw against F.C. Copenhagen, Porto's captain was given a rest on the bench during the recent 0-0 away result against Tondela.
Herrera has looked tired as of late and was in need of a break. The midfielder hasn't looked like his usual creative self in previous games and has therefore had an aloof presence for Porto. The midfielder has benefitted from a couple of matches on the bench in the past and will perhaps need another game on the sidelines in order to regain his energy.
Jesus Corona, FW, Porto Corona was substituted on in the 77th minute of Sunday's match against Tondela. The winger provided some late crosses but had little time to make a real impact.
Similar to Herrera, Corona was likely given a short break after the midweek Champions League game. Porto needed a creative outlet like the 23-year-old to take charge in the attack and provide some exciting crosses and runs down the wings.
Expect the talented attacker to return to the starting XI in the upcoming league match against Boavista this Friday.
Jonathan dos Santos, MF, Villarreal
Last Thursday, Dos Santos was on fire with his goal and assist for Villarreal in the 2-1 Europa League win over FC Zurich. The midfielder followed up the superb performance as a late substitute during the 63rd minute of Sunday's 2-1 win against Real Sociedad.
Mexico is in need of the versatile 26-year-old who has the talents to be Osorio's starting defensive midfielder. A little over one year ago, Dos Santos was arguably the best player after Andres Guardado for El Tri in the Gold Cup and deserves to regain his status in the roster.
That is, if he continues to avoid any serious injuries.
Carlos Vela, FW, Real Sociedad
On Sunday's loss to Villarreal, Vela was given his first start of the La Liga tournament for Real Sociedad. The winger played the full 90 minutes and provided several key passes.
The 27-year-old wasn't at his very best, but was also unlucky to not finish the game without an assist. That said, questions over Vela's dedication will still linger over the gifted Mexican who has had a difficult time recreating his noteworthy form from 2-3 years ago.
As for the national team, in order to win over Osorio, Vela will need more than just one decent showing in Spain.
Diego Reyes, MF, Espanyol (Spain)
On Sunday, Reyes made his debut for Espanyol in the 83rd minute of the 2-0 home loss to Real Madrid. Brought in as a defensive midfielder, the 23-year-old only had a handful of minutes against the Merengues.
The debut was a small step in the right direction for the young player who is typically a central defender. Whether it be in the defense or midfield, minutes are valuable for the bench option who needs time to gain a more key role with the Spanish side.
As a current starting option for El Tri, Osorio will keep his fingers crossed that Reyes earns more playing time before November's World Cup qualifiers.
- Raul Jimenez, FW, Benfica
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.