In the build-up to the 2011 Clausura's Clasico Tapatio, Club Atlas Chairman Carlos Martin del Campo and others associated with the club started a great deal of trash talking centered around Atlas being the real great academy of Mexico. Chivas de Guadalajara is a team that prides themselves on their great academy and their policy of only playing Mexican players, so this was a statement that hit hard for some.
Even though it stings a bit for Chivas fans when they hear it, it doesn't seem totally off base. Andres Guardado and Rafael Marquez, among others have come out of Atlas, after all. And really, if there's a team that has an argument that they produce more quality players than Atlas, it's probably Pumas UNAM. However, based on some recent events, it looks like Chivas might be coming close to staking a claim as the best developer of Mexican talent in the country.
Of course, everyone knows 'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez. The Chivas product moved to Manchester United after just one year of sustained great play for the Goats, and he's gone on to become the biggest star in Mexican football. He's not the only great youngster to be coming out of Chivas, though. 'Cubo' Erick Torres and Marco Fabian are already great first team players, but what about the youngsters playing in the 2011 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Mexico?
The biggest stars for the El Tri Sub-17 team? They're Chivas products. The young man pictured above is a striker by the name of Carlos Fierro. He's a Chivas de Guadalajara product, and he's Mexico's leading scorer with three goals. Arguably, El Tri's best player has been the young man who flanks him on the left, Giovanni Casillas. He has two goals and his been instrumental in others. Like Fierro, he also plays for Chivas.
In total, four Chivas players are on the sub-17 squad, which is bettered only by Monterrey, who have five players in the team. Atlas have three, while Pumas have just one. Of course, predicting the eventual professional success of players based on a U-17 tournament is absolutely beyond absurd, but the presence and performances of Fierro, Casillas, and the other Chivas players are just more evidence piled on top of Chicharito, Fabian, Torres, and other Chivas first teamers that their academy is producing players just fine.
If Atlas and Pumas really want to stake their claim to having the best academies in Mexico, they might have to up their games. Chivas are producing the future of the senior Mexican national team.