High expectations for El Tri's U-20 team 

February, 13, 2013
02/13/13
10:51
AM ET

In the recent history of CONCACAF regional soccer, it's hard to think of a bigger favorite heading into a qualifying tournament than this edition of Mexico's U-20s. The hosts head to Puebla as the prohibitive favorite not just to advance to a second straight U-20 World Cup, but to roll over all comers in the altitude of central Mexico's mountains.

Recent history is on Mexico's side. This team is comprised in large part of the 2011 U-17 world champions, and El Tri achieved a memorable third-place finish in the 2011 U-20 World Cup.

This generation may be even better than the last. With playmakers in abundance, forwards who know how to score goals, a solid defense and more than 60 international matches under their belts in the last two years, the U-20s are ready for far more than any challenge regional foes like Group D rivals Curacao and El Salvador figure to put up.

"We've competed, we've played well and we've won international tournaments in Europe, South America, in the United States, against strong rivals that go to these tournaments and force us to compete to get good results," coach Sergio Almaguer told the FMF website.

But lest complacency become an obstacle, Almaguer has set the usual high goals for his team: not only securing a place in the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey, but winning every time it steps on the field in Puebla -- from the opening match Tuesday night against debutant Curacao to the final in early March -- and doing it convincingly.

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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Soccer, Soccer

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