By Eric Beard, writing from New York City
The last time Mexico won the U17 World Cup was in 2005. A mere 6 years ago. Yesterday, they did it on their home turf, Estadio Azteca, in front of 105,000 supporting El Tri. Yes, that means Mexico have won two out of the last four U17 World Cups.
Last time around the squad ended up producing Carlos Vela who is currently part of Arsenal’s squad, Giovani Dos Santos who has been all over Europe, Efraín Juárez who is currently part of Celtic’s squad [in Scotland], Hector Moreno who has recently transfered from AZ Alkmaar [in Holland] to Espanyol, and Villaluz who plays for Cruz Azul. All have taken part in the older Mexican national teams.
On the surface, having five players move on to the next level doesn’t seem like much when the squad is four times that size, however, Giovani Dos Santos has turned out to be the team’s beating heart going forward in attack while the other four are still full of promise. Producing four or five players every two years fit to play in the top leagues in the world, that’s the path to the world’s elite and Mexico show no signs of stopping.
But who impressed this time around and will make the next step? The question holds a different connotation with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil still 3 years away.
9 out of 10 Mexico fans would tell you Julio Gomez (pictured above), Mexico’s striker that came up with two huge goals against Germany in the semifinal, despite being stretchered off earlier in the match. Gomez’s determination, along with his skill, has been more than enough to win over his fellow countrymen. Carlos Fierro has also been the subject of much praise, and rightfully so as he ended up scoring the tournament-winning goal.
Below is a graphic of the team’s stand out players: midfielder Alfonso Gonzalez (Atlas), forward Carlos Fierro (Chivas), midfielder Jorge Espericueta (Tigres), midfielder Giovani Casillas (Chivas), defender Julio Gomez (Pachuca), and midfielder Marco Bueno (Club Leon). It’s also notable that the team’s goalkeeper, Richard Sanchez, was born in California and plays for FC Dallas.
“Un bicampeonato no es coincidencia" is the primary message streaming out of Mexican news publications. (Translation: The "bi-championship" of the Gold Cup and U17 World Cup is no coincidence.) Mexico’s formula of producing talent is working, and they’re on to something great.
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