Graduating from the Liga Bancomer MX’s Under-20s championship to establishing yourself in the full professional top flight of the Mexican game is the dream of hundreds of hungry youths in clubs up and down the land. Statistically, not many make it.
Here are ten that have caught the eye so far this Apertura.
Guillermo Madrigal (Monterrey) Age: 20
Four goals in four games in the Copa MX have given the lanky striker the confidence to start performing in the Liga MX, as his two goals last weekend against Morelia proved. A lot is expected of Madrigal in Monterrey and with Aldo de Nigris and Dorlan Pabon departed, a significant amount of responsibility has fallen on his shoulders ahead of the Club World Cup. So far, he’s relished the challenge.
Alan Pulido (Tigres) Age: 22
A striker in a similar mold as Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and who has reportedly been on the radar of European clubs had been hindered by a lack of minutes under coach Ricardo Ferretti. Injuries have changed that this season and Pulido has five goals in six starts for Tigres. The next step is Pulido keeping Emanuel Villa out of the team on a more permanent basis.
Amaury Escoto (Queretaro) Age: 20
Scored a goal of the highest quality in the Copa MX from 30 yards against Leones Negros, but it’s in the league that the midfielder has made his mark, starting seven games for the Gallos Blancos, who have been one of the surprise packages this season. Escoto is well-spoken off the pitch and plays with a maturity on the field that belies his age.
Paul Arriola (Tijuana) Age: 18
Right-winger Arriola has chins wagging on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Although he has mainly been used as a substitute so far, the Southern California native has exceptional pace, is direct in his play and has a work ethic to track back and tackle to match. It is early days for the US youth international, but all the potential is there for Arriola to kick on.
Jesus Alonso Escoboza (Santos Laguna) Age: 20
Having benefited from a loan spell last season in the second division with Necaxa, left midfielder Escoboza is one of the youngsters at Los Guerreros that has clearly won over coach Pedro Caixinha. The U-20 Mexico international has started six league games this season and grabbed the equalizing goal against Tijuana.
Luis Mendoza (America) Age: 23
Slightly older, but deserves a mention for the breakthrough this season. When “Quick” joined America in the summer, it almost went under the radar. At best fans thought it was a player to strengthen the squad and perhaps get some minutes in the CONCACAF Champions League. But the right-winger has been the revelation of the season for Las Aguilas and there have been some calls for him to be included in Victor Manuel Vucetich’s Mexico squad.
Carlos Fierro (Chivas) Age: 19
“El Guero” has found a place in Guadalajara’s starting line-up and is showing the kind of promise to suggest that he is the club’s brightest young talent at present. Featuring mainly on the wing this season, only time will tell what his best position is, but in a campaign that already looks like one to forget for Chivas, Fierro’s performances and work-rate have been a positive.
Javier Guemez (Tijuana) Age: 21
Playing on the left-hand side of a central midfield trio for Xolos, Guemez has been keeping US international Joe Corona out of coach Jorge Almiron’s starting lineup. It’s some feat for the youngster, but his form perhaps shouldn’t be too surprising considering he had already played over 50 games in the second division for Dorados before switching to sister club Tijuana in the offseason.
Jurgen Damm (Pachuca) Age: 20
There was a reason Manchester United called in Damm for a trial, and now that the EU passport holder is getting regular minutes, he is starting to show what that was. The flying right winger lacks experience and needs to work on his final ball, but all the raw materials are there for Damm to become a top player, especially as he gets older and physically stronger.
Javier Abella (Santos Laguna) Age:19
Like Escoboza, Abella was also a starter for Mexico’s U-20s in the World Cup in Turkey and the duo have taken that partnership down the left to Santos. Abella has played almost every minute of Santos’ season so far at left back in both league and cup and looks like he could challenge for a full national team call-up in the next few years.
Honorable mentions: Luis Lorona (Queretaro), Armando Zamorano (Morelia), Cesar Ibanez (Santos), Greg Garza (Tijuana)