Who needs more playing time? 

September, 10, 2012
09/10/12
11:57
AM ET

With qualification for the final round of CONCACAF qualifying pretty much sewn up after victories on the road at El Tri's two top "rivals" in Group B, coach Manuel de la Torre will now enjoy a bit of flexibility in terms of his lineup choices over the next three matches, starting with Tuesday night's return leg versus Costa Rica at El Azteca.

The Mexicans have proved through three rounds that they have absolutely nothing to worry about in the semifinal round of qualifying -- not a given, taking into account past qualifying processes in which El Tri has been nearly knocked out at this stage. We can clearly say that this version of El Tri, though, is just too good a team to be troubled by Salvadoran and Costa Rican sides in the process of rebuilding, much less Guyana.

Whether such domination will continue into the notoriously tight hexagonal won't be clear until next year, but for now Mexico has the luxury of testing some green players in matches that actually count for something, at least for the other team. That's an opportunity that may be too good to pass up even for de la Torre, who usually plays lineup choices pretty close to the vest.

That said, changing too much of the team makes little sense, since the upcoming qualifiers are also a chance for the regular starting team to gain further rhythm. And changing the entire team makes it impossible to evaluate the fit of key backups, as too many variables ruin the experiment for particular individuals of interest. With that in mind, let's look at a few players who could stand to get more playing time over the next few qualifying dates.

F Oribe Peralta -- It's still not clear if Peralta will become the forward at the full international level that he is with his club and that he proved to be for the U-23s. To find out, Peralta needs more time to shine.


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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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