High World Cup hopes for U-20s 

November, 6, 2012

For Mexico's under-20s, living up to the team's third-place performance at the 2011 U-20 World Cup in Colombia will be no easy feat. But El Tri's ever-improving youth teams haven't been afraid to set the bar high.

There's plenty of reason for optimism in coach Sergio Almaguer's latest U-20 squad. The core of this cycle's U-20 team comes from the base of the U-17 squad that surged through Mexico 2011 a little more than a year ago, lifting the U-17 World Cup for the second time in the nation's history.

As the top players from that team have filtered up to the U-20s, surrounded by a number of slightly older standouts from the 1993 age group, this version of the Mexican U-20 team has already developed into one of the most successful to date, without even having played an official match.

That will happen soon enough, at next spring's regional qualifying tournament in Puebla, where Mexico will be looking for a second straight regional championship and World Cup bid at this level.

Here's a look at how El Tri's U-20s have prepared over the past year, a review of the team's roster heading into qualifying and what to expect in Puebla and beyond.

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.

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