Mexico’s Plastic Man

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

TORONTO - His nickname is Chuletita, the Little Pork Chop.

Right now, Javier Orozco is the most talked about and the most divisive figure in Mexican soccer. The Cruz Azul phenom leads the country with six goals in eight games.

At 22, he already is the all-time leading scorer in CONCACAF Champions League history. Over the course of Cruz Azul’s last two CCL matches, Orozco has scored seven times.

Seven.

Put that in perspective; only Dwayne De Rosario has scored more than seven goals for Toronto FC — all MLS season long.

It will be up to Toronto FC to find a way to stop Chuletita when Cruz Azul hosts the Reds on Tuesday night in Mexico City.

Good luck to them.

Go on the message boards, blogs and fan sites that discuss Mexican football, and you will find more discussion about Chuletita than about the young star strikers who have made the jump to Europe, Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez or Arsenal’s Carlos Vela.

It’s clear that there are two schools of thought about Chuletita.

One supports the notion that he is the next great Mexican superstar forward, this generation’s answer to Hugo Sanchez, who 25 years ago was Real Madrid’s most celebrated forward.

The other group thinks that Orozco is simply an overrated goalsuck, a player who simply finds himself at the right place at the right time, and pads his scoring stats with big games against inferior teams from places like Panama or, ahem, MLS.

Orozco wasn’t named to Mexico’s World Cup team, but did get called up an appeared as a sub in El Tri’s most recent round of friendlies.

Chuletita is an absolute beast in the penalty area; in last week’s 6-0 win over Panama’s Arabe Unido, all three of his goals were one-touched into the goal from awkward crosses.

Orozco has this uncanny ability to contort his body like Plastic Man, able to shift past defenders and get a part of his body onto the ball and direct it towards goal. Not all of his goals are pretty, but as long as the ball gets over the line, no one is going to care if its a shocker of a shot from 30 yards out or a ball chested over the line from a foot away.

His best goal? His third of the game, where he latched onto a low, bouncing cross, laying out to get enough on the ball to redirect inside the far post.

Chuletita leads a Cruz Azul team that hasn’t been held to less than three goals in a game since Aug. 17, when TFC beat it 2-1 at BMO Field.

It was TFC’s only win of the CONCACAF Champions League so far this season.

But beating Cruz Azul in Mexico City is an entirely different task. No MLS team has won in Mexico in the CCL. Real Salt Lake has come the closes, as it held a 3-1 lead late into the second half when the two teams met in late August, but Orozco scored four as Cruz Azul roared back in a torrential rainstorm to win a 5-4 thriller that may not only go down as the most entertaining game in CCL history, but maybe the match of the year so far in 2010. A World Cup year, at that.

So, if TFC alone isn’t reason enough to watch Tuesday’s game in Mexico, tune in to see Javier Orozco. With the way he’s going, it may only be a matter of time before he’s playing on a much bigger stage, in England or in Spain.


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