Mexico pulled off the biggest surprise of the World Cup's opening week on Sunday, defeating defending champions Germany 1-0 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, and two key figures with MLS ties were prominently involved.
Former Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls coach Juan Carlos Osorio was the architect of a well-crafted game plan that stunned the world, as he set up El Tri to stymie the Germans' build-up play and break out in transition.
LAFC star Carlos Vela (pictured at top) got the start as the central attacking midfielder in Osorio's 4-5-1 formation, and ran the counterattack to good effect in a first half controlled by Mexico to a startling degree.
One last thing: Vela was immense tonight. And Lozano's first half was pretty insane too.— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) June 17, 2018
The underdogs conceded the majority of possession, but tore apart a complacent German side again and again, finally cashing in when Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez fed Hirving "Chucky" Lozano for the game's only goal in the 35th minute.
The youngster puts it away!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 17, 2018
Chicharito starts the counterattack and Chucky Lozano finishes it to give Mexico the 1-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/Ze5IUJuE3d
Vela made way for Edson Alvarez in the 58th minute as El Tri dropped into a more defensive posture, soaking up wave after wave of German pressure down the stretch but never conceding the equalizer. The LA Galaxy sibling duo of Jonathan and Giovani dos Santos were unused substitutes.
There were plenty of other MLS links in this one. Real Salt Lake Homegrown product Carlos Salcedo, who spent three years in RSL's system before moving on to Chivas Guadalajara, Fiorentina and Eintracht Frankfurt, logged a full 90 minutes at Mexico's right back spot.
And former Red Bulls Designated Player Rafa Marquez, a resounding flop in MLS who subsequently rejuvenated his career for both club and country, made history when he came off the bench as El Tri's final substitute to help lock down the victory. The 39-year-old is only the third player ever to appear in five World Cups, and the first to do so as captain in all five.