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5 Years Later, Mexico U17 World Cup Winning Team Struggles

The second and last WC winning Mexican youth team is struggling to make their mark on the senior level.

Mexico v Germany: Men's Football - Olympics: Day -1 Photo by Felipe Oliveira/Getty Images

Mexico has just returned from the 2016 Olympics after failing to defend the Olympic gold won in London, and among them, only two players from the team that won the 2011 U17 World Cup were named (Marco Bueno and Alfonso Gonzalez)on the original list. After the injury in the Fiji game to Oribe Peralta, Carlos Fierro got called in as a replacement, upping the number to three. While this is one more than the 2012 Olympic team(two if you count Fierro), that situation was different as Mexico failed to qualify to the Olympics during their process and thus only Gio Dos Santos and Carlos Vela were available for 2012 (and Vela famously was turning down every NT callup).

The fact is that while many people have criticized the "golden generation" of 2005 for failing to live up to expectations, the reality is that that criticism is not valid for the most part. Looking back to that team, its has given Mexico four World Cup players (Dos Santos, Vela, Hector Moreno and Efrain Juarez). A couple of other players have had good impactful Liga MX careers and even gotten to the National team, which is better than many for U17 WC winning teams (If you need any proof check France and Brazil's winning squads in 2001 and 2003 respectively).

On the other hand, Mexico's 2011 U17 World Cup team has struggled a lot more, and even though there is still a lot of time to turn it around, has produced a lot less. Mexico hosted the 2011 U17 World Cup and won all their games, as they conquered their second (and last) U17 title. Technically they did even better than the 2005 team and even beat more impressive teams, although not as clearly as the 2005 team. The 2011 semifinal against favorite Germany is one of the greatest games in Mexican NT history regardless of age. Yet the struggles of the members of the team since then, has soured a little the status of that team.

This is the team that won the World Cup by beating Uruguay 2-0.

Richard Sanchez (GK)

Francisco Flores

Carlos Guzman

Antonio Briseño

Jorge Caballero

Kevin Escamilla

Jorge Espericueta

Alfonso Gonzalez

Jose Tostado

Carlos Fierro

Marco Bueno

Subs

Julio Gomez

Marcelo Gracia

Gio Casillas

Off this team, Mexico had three players who went to the Olympics and had two more in the running (Guzman, Briseño). Guzman is a starter with a Liga MX team. Briseño has just gone to Ascenso MX to Ciudad Juarez after failing to get playing time in Tigres. Of the rest of the players, only Espericueta had any considerable time in the Olympic process and this was mostly on past promise as his career with Tigres has been a disappointment. With two tournaments in hand (Liga MX and CCL) Kevin Escamilla might have a future with Pumas’ new thin squad, but the rest of the members are either settled as 2nd team players (Sanchez, Gracia, Caballero) or in Ascenso MX (Gomez, Casillas, Flores). Of note is Jose Tostado whose career has been mired in tragedy and was out of football.

While nothing can take away from the achievement ot the 2011 team, the struggles of most of the players is a bad sign for our already weak record with integrating youth talent and making them reach the potential. While youth football has not necessarily proven to be a guarantee of success for most countries, the fact is that recent events like Mexico’s loss in Copa America has shown that while Mexico have improved in developing players, other teams have improved further and more depth is needed. And for all the criticism that the players from 2005 has gotten, the situation looks tougher for the 2011 team.