Emerging youngsters for Mexico 

October, 13, 2011

As El Tri sets out on the long -- but straight -- road to the 2014 World Cup, Mexico's quest is clearly to reach new heights. To do that, Chepo de la Torre's men will need to beat teams like Brazil. Tuesday in Torreon, they were doing just that for nearly 80 minutes, only to fall at the final hurdle and drop not only the match, but their undefeated record in De la Torre's reign.

Despite the loss, Tuesday night's performance showed that El Tri is close to becoming an elite side. But Mexico isn't there just yet. The difference lies in quality and concentration over 90 minutes, but also in the quality of the depth and team-wide talent levels. There's still some disparity between Mexico and the world's elite sides in those departments.

No sooner did De la Torre go to his bench then things started to unravel against a shorthanded Brazil. The hard truth is that beyond its starting 11, El Tri still doesn't quite have the depth to keep up with the top teams around the world. But help is on the way. Here are a few young Mexicans who could emerge over the course of this World Cup qualifying campaign to contribute in trouble spots:

Jorge Enriquez , MF, Chivas
Chasing around Hulk and Neymar all night is a tough assignment, but El Tri's defensive difficulties suggest that Mexico could use a little help in the back, both in defensive midfield and the center of defense. Particularly if De La Torre is intent on using dual-defensive mids behind his attacking corps, El Tri needs an infusion of youth. Rafa Marquez isn't getting any younger, and his club form has dropped considerably since his days at Barcelona. The same goes for Gerardo Torrado and Israel Castro, neither of whom is likely to maintain a Tri-worthy level through the next World Cup. Carlos Salcido -- El Tri's left back for much of the past decade -- started in midfield along with Castro on Tuesday, but the pair are little more than place holders looking all the way ahead to 2014.

Now watch this. There's a reason Jorge Enriquez was named among the finest players at this summer's U-20 World Cup. He can be spectacular, as that goal you just saw proves. But mostly he's steady -- and even intimidating -- from his deep midfield spot. The Chivas youngster has a knack for positioning and leadership, and has the size, at 6-foot-2, to be a force in midfield for El Tri for years to come. He doesn't get forward into the attack too often, but that's not what Mexico is missing right now. Enriquez is set to make a splash at the U-23 level next year. Look for him to move quickly into the full national team mix from there.

Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for ESPN.com. Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.