After the senior team fumbled their game in Belarus, the U21s tried to give us something to cheer about. The team kicked off the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games, where countries are allowed 3 “over-age” players but this is basically a U21 tournament. Mexico started their campaign against Honduras and were able to win by a comfortable margin of 5-2. Mexico is the favorite to win it all. The tournament may very well be a minor one but it still is a great chance for these players to continue their development. 1 player caught my eye in particular.
He opened up the scoring in the 3rd minute with the great free kick where the keeper had no chance of saving it. He spent the rest of the game bossing the midfield from his position spraying the ball out to attacking players. This included his involvement in 2 other Mexican goals by delivering dangerous free kicks into the box. I’ll admit, Cubo used his hand tho.
Espericueta is a player I’ve kept my eye on since the 2011 U17 World Cup where he won the Silver ball as the tournament’s 2nd best player. He seemed to slow the game down and continually make the right pass. Espericueta showed the rest of the soccer world he was a player to watch. Mexico won that youth World Cup with Espe playing a huge role and never coming off the field. His defining moment was in the semifinals against Germany:
I figured he would become a part of Tigres’ first division team within a year or two of that WC performance but Tuca had other plans. Espericueta has yet to make his LigaMX debut and is currently on loan at Villarreal, playing with their “B” squad. He is coming off a broken bone in his foot but after last night’s performance, it seems to have healed nicely. His loan deal ends with Villarreal next month and no one is particularly sure what will happen after. I think he will try to stay in Europe but Tigres are not ones to let their young internationals leave so easily (see the Pulido debacle). If Tuca is going to keep leaving his young players on the bench, Espericueta should look elsewhere to play. Whether that means Europe or not, I do not know. But I do know he needs playing time at this point in his career.
For more on Jorge Espericueta, I suggest you read an interview he did with Nayib Moran last month. You can find it here.
Let us know what you thought of the U21 game in the comments below