Six youngsters to watch in 2012 

December, 22, 2011

Digging down into the numbers of the recently completed 2011 Apertura, one of the more striking trends that emerges concerns Mexico's young generation of budding stars. Some, like Miguel Ponce of Chivas and RR Bocanegra of Atlas, established themselves as core players at their clubs, while others struggled for playing time. But a number of El Tri's U-23 contingent came on strong only at the end of the year, after starting the season on the outside looking in.

After early season struggles in the Apertura, several of Mexico's next generation began to show signs of seizing spots in their respective club's lineup. A few even made their cases for playing time as late in the year as the liguilla. Looking ahead to next year, and Olympic qualifying, it's a positive sign that these young Mexicans started to get some serious time as the Apertura closed out.

Here are six names to watch for 2012.

Liborio Sanchez, GK, Queretaro
Sanchez had hinted at big things in occasional Copa Libertadores appearances for Chivas, during his time as a backup there. In a bid to get the keeper more playing time for the Apertura, the Goats let him go out on loan to Queretaro, where he seized the starting role and saw regular time for the first time in his young career. But it was Sanchez's performance in the liguilla that will be remembered as his coming out party, as he nearly single-handedly knocked top-seeded Chivas out with some spectacular saves.

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