Mexico National Football Team: Is the New Generation Changing the Rules?

Jack DoyleCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2010

HOUSTON - JULY 28:  Javier Hernandez #14 of Manchester United warms up prior to taking the field during the MLS All Star Game at Reliant Stadium on July 28, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The composition of Mexico's national football team has changed.

Gone are the days of keeping the best internationals in house. The future of Mexican footballers is now in Europe. More specifically, the English Premier League.

This isn't how it always was.

Unless he pulls another Brett Favre, gone is the immortal Cuauhtémoc Blanco, who announced his latest retirement from international play after the World Cup. The 37-year-old striker recorded more than 120 caps for his country and spent his entire club career, minus small stints in the MLS and Spain, in Mexico.

And it's not just Blanco who's stuck around La Primera; 12 of those on El Tri's World Cup roster are on rosters in Mexico's top league. But only three are 25 or younger.

It truly is a changing of the guard.

The lure of the money that's at stake, the exposure the EPL provides, and playing in what many view as the best league in the world are just a few reasons why the up-and-comers south of the U.S. border are venturing overseas.

Not to mention creating their own legacy.

Just before the World Cup, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, 22, became the first Mexican footballer ever signed by Manchester United. This past Wednesday, he was the first Mexican to score for the club. To put it dramatically, Hernandez is doing what no other Mexican player has ever done before.

Then there is Giovani Dos Santos, the 21-year-old wunderkind who is owned by the Tottenham Hotspurs. Despite the fact that he is currently on loan to Turkish side Galatasaray, there is little doubt that Dos Santos has the talent to one day break into Tottenham's starting XI.

And although Dos Santos didn't have the breakout World Cup that Hernandez did, it was hard not to be impressed by the youngster's pace, technical skill, and energy on the pitch.

But these two prodigies aren't the only ones skipping across the Atlantic.

Two other rising stars, Carlos Vela and Pablo Barrera, are signed with Arsenal and West Ham, respectively. Vela hasn't had tremendous success in the EPL, but he has the potential to capture a spot in Wenger's starting lineup someday. And Barrera just inked a deal with the Hammers after a solid World Cup, so it will be interesting to see how he stacks up.

Mexico fans aren't all that used to seeing their top players going abroad so early in their careers. And with the country's arguably most talented youth movement ever doing just that, it's hard for them not to be disappointed.

But this is a new generation.

They are distinguishing themselves from previous players by stepping outside Mexico's borders and testing the EPL waters. While this has been done before, it has never occurred in this quantity. This young group of Mexican footballers is blazing a new trail.

Even though Mexico's club teams won't benefit from their success, the next decade is extremely bright for El Tri and their fans.