Young standouts in Liga MX this season 

November, 27, 2012
11/27/12
12:27
PM ET

The Apertura 2012 is down to its final two teams, with either Toluca or Club Tijuana set to be crowned champion. It's been a captivating season, with upstart clubs replacing the regular title contenders and a host of rising stars asserting themselves around the country.

El Tri has also had a spectacular year, leaving little doubt as to what the starting lineup might look like when the Hexagonal kicks off in February. But there's always room for rising talent to force its way into the national team conversation. That's just what a number of players -- many of them veterans of this summer's Olympic gold medal run -- have done over the last four months.

Here's a look at some of the players who stepped up their games in the Apertura 2012 of the Liga MX and have burst onto the full national team scene headed into a busy 2013.

Carlos Pena, MF, Club Leon

Perhaps no player has done more this season to help his national team cause than Pena. A mature, dual-threat box-to-box midfielder, Pena has emerged as the motor of a surprise Club Leon side that came within a hair of making the final.

With a productive seven goals in 20 games, Pena is a scoring threat on a level that few true holding mids have been of late for El Tri. But he also brings the range, defensive wherewithal, positioning and bite that Chepo de la Torre demands from his central midfielders.

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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