Paul Aguilar
Mexico defender Paul Aguilar (22) moves the ball against USA defender DeMarcus Beasley (7) during the second half of the CONCACAF Cup at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Defender Paul Aguilar, who scored a dramatic winner when Mexico beat the United States in a 2017 Confederations Cup playoff last month, has been forced to pull out of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers due to injury.

Mexico host El Salvador on Friday and play Honduras away next week in their opening Group A matches in the fourth round of CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Right back Aguilar, who pulled a thigh muscle playing for his club America in a 2-1 defeat at Monterrey on Saturday, has been replaced by Raul Lopez of Guadalajara, the Mexican Football Federation said on its website (www.femexfut.org.mx).

Aguilar volleyed the winning goal two minutes from the end of extra time to give Mexico a 3-2 victory over the U.S. in the CONCACAF Cup at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, a playoff between the winners of the last two Gold Cup titles for a place at the Confederations Cup in Russia.

Mexico will be playing for the first time under their new coach, Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio, at the Azteca on Friday when they enter the CONCACAF qualifiers after a bye along with five other seeded teams in previous rounds.

(Reporting by Carlos Calvo; Writing by Rex Gowar, editing by Ed Osmond)

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