Torneo de Esperanzas de Toulon. What is this? What does it mean? To many it could be another worthless, time-wasting soccer tournament where victory is as prestigious as winning a pick-up soccer at your nearest park; however, to Mexico it means more than just that. To Mexico, it translates into the third cup risen by a U-23 soccer team in less than one year.
Previously the young Mexican team had won the Paramericans in Guadalajara 2011 in a tournament in where they entered as favorites, and more recently they were victorious in the North American pre-Olympics where they faced mediocre teams to attain a prestigious spot in the upcoming London 2012 Olympic games. One may ask, Mexico has won three U-23 competitions in the last year, none of them of any high competitiveness, so why is this Mexico’s Golden Age?
Simply, no other team in the world has had as much success in youth competitions. Toulon demonstrates that Mexico is taking every level of competition to the upper-most level of seriousness and it is showing results. They are no longer a team in the youth level where losing against Brazil, Argentina, or France is seen as a, “well they are better than us”. Rather, that youth has turned Mexican mentality into one in which defeat against any rival is a great disappointment. This is the Golden Age because Mexico is no longer waiting for a miracle player like Messi, Ronaldo, or even Chicharito; Mexico is producing an elite squad, an elite group of players from its youth system rather than praying for another Chicharito. With players like Marco Fabian, Hector Herrera, or Hiram Mier who all have played dozens of games in the Mexican first division, Mexico is now the elite nation in youth soccer tournaments.
Toulon enlarged that fact, and now if Mexico receives a medal in London, that team led by Fabian, supported by players like Carlos Fierro or Marco Bueno who won the U-17 World Cup, and cemented by young starters in the national team like Giovani Dos Santos, Chicharito, or Hector Moreno, the world will wonder—what will be Mexico’s definition of disappointment be in Russia 2018?