Will Mexico and MLS ever mix? 

February, 2, 2012

When Gienir Garcia left Cruz Azul after the Apertura to pursue his career north of the border, a light bulb might have gone on in the heads of MLS execs around the league. The former Mexican U-20 international had struggled for playing time at one of Mexico's biggest clubs, and now the defender was looking for a chance in the U.S. Could there be more talented young Mexicans like him?

The MLS offseason is nearly in the books, and the league is clearly on a South American import binge. Colombians are joining MLS at every turn, with a few Ecuadorans and Argentines thrown in for good measure. And with a new young designated player rule that facilitates the signing of U-23 players from overseas, the league is on the lookout for more young Latino talent.

So the question is: Why not more young Mexicans? We know that Mexicans face barriers to leaving the LMF, and that these days Mexico's best young talent aspires to play in Europe. There are already nine Mexican-born players set to suit up in MLS in 2012, making it the biggest market for Mexican exports. Young Mexicans bring on-the-ball flair and talent still not common in the U.S., so it's reasonable to think MLS might make a good place for them to hone their skills, particularly for those who find it hard to get on the field in Mexico at this stage in their careers.

"Mexico has a ton of young players that they need to get more competitive games for," says FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman. "If you're with Pumas for example, and you're one of their young players, you may be behind 20 players, and not everyone's going to get a lot of games. So if you can get a young, skillful player and bring him into the league, you make our league better. Imagine Giovanni Dos Santos if he was here when he was 18, what he would have been like in MLS."

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.