LA Galaxy's Julian Araujo, Arsenal youngster Marcelo Flores debut in Mexico 2-2 draw with Chile

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LA Galaxy's Julian Araujo, Arsenal youngster Marcelo Flores debut in Mexico 2-2 draw with Chile

LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo and Arsenal academy youngster Marcelo Flores made their Mexico debuts in a 2-2 draw against Chile in a friendly at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.

With the match being played on a non-FIFA date, both sides featured line-ups with plenty of young faces and alternates. Araujo, who had filed a one-time switch from the United States national team in October, started for Mexico in his first match with the El Tri squad.

Mexico wasted little time in securing the game's first goal from Cruz Azul's Santiago Gimenez in the ninth minute. Chile, who had already tested Mexican goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo early on, ramped up their pressure in the attack and eventually equalized. Following a save from Acevedo, striker Ivan Morales pounced on the rebound and tapped in the shot to make it 1-1 in the 21st minute.

Mexico then responded with a set-piece in the 64th minute when Sebastian Cordova found his Club America teammate Jordan Silva through a well-timed cross. Silva leapt into the air and headed the ball into the back of the net, giving Mexico the lead with a 2-1 advantage.

Mexico coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino then made a series of substitutions, including bringing on the highly touted Flores in the 83rd minute.

However, El Tri were unable to hold on to the lead as Pablo Parra slid the ball towards the bottom right corner and past Acevedo to make it 2-2 the 86th minute.

Mexico pushed for a late game-winner but were unable to create one last opportunity before the final whistle.

"We wanted to give the fans a victory, but well, that's part of the process," Acevedo told TUDN after the match. "You have to work hard to do things right."

Martino was a bit more downtrodden in the post-game press conference.

The result marked the fourth match in a row without a win for Martino, who said after Wednesday's game that 2021 was "the worst year of my management" since taking over for Mexico in 2019. The Argentine has come under heavy criticism afte losing crucial World Cup qualifiers in November to the U.S. and to Canada.

"We played two friendlies against Ecuador [in November] and tonight. Two qualifiers [against the U.S. and Canada] and nine goals scored against us in those four games with different defenses. Evidently our objective and challenge is to find a defense that lives up to how we attack," Martino added.

On Flores' debut, Martino said: "I understand the expectations that can create but I ask for prudence with the demands of an 18-year-old."

As for Chile, La Roja manager Martin Lasarte said he was satisfied from what he saw from his squad.

"We came to get some minutes played, give opportunities to some, see what we have and what we could do against a team that had more time together. We only trained two days together," Lasarte said. 

Mexico return to action with World Cup qualifying matches in January, while Chile travel to Los Angeles for another friendly against El Salvador on Dec. 11.

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