The steady rise of Hector Moreno 

August, 14, 2012
08/14/12
10:59
AM ET

MEXICO CITY -- An offense-first mindset is probably the nature of Mexico's soccer fans and community in general. The best Mexican export of all time, Hugo Sanchez, set that tone long ago, and this generation's most alluring talent is clearly on the offensive end.

So it's a bit ironic that the player who has become perhaps El Tri's most accomplished member over the past few seasons is a defender. His position, square in the middle of defense, also offers a clearer explanation of why so few have really noticed the steady and continuing rise of Hector Moreno.

But when El Tri line up at El Azteca on Wednesday against the U.S., Moreno will be there yet again, leading the defensive line. At just 24 years old, he's rocketing toward international stardom. But for El Tri, Moreno's exploits have taken a backseat to the talented attackers of his generation.

Forged from the same golden group of Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela, Moreno was a part of the 2005 under-17 World Cup-winning team that set Mexico's golden generation in motion. He played mostly defensive midfield for the U-20s in 2007 and soon was on his way to the Netherlands after a precocious start to his career with Pumas.

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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