If the U.S. Is Better, Why Keep Poaching Players From Mexico?

Eric GomezAnalyst IOctober 21, 2008

In the recent U.S. Men's National Team loss to Trinidad & Tobago, the young starting eleven featured both Michael Orozco and José Francisco Torres, who ply their trade in the Mexican league.

Both players were developed by Mexican clubs since their teen years, Orozco by Necaxa (and later San Luis) and Torres by CF Pachuca, where he's received the bulk of playing time in the midfield this season.

When Orozco found himself behind several defenders (including three from Mexico's U-17 World Cup Champion team) in Mexico's U-23 squad en route to the 2008 Beijing Olympiad, Orozco accepted an invitation to join the US National Team.

Torres, on the other hand, was awaiting a call-up from Mexico's full national team when Bob Bradley's repeated inquiries paid off with Torres electing to play for the United States in early October.

Orozco (born in California) and Torres (born in Texas) are just two of several Mexican players USSF officials have had their eyes on over the past few years with the idea of bolstering the national team.

Edgar Castillo, a defender for Santos Laguna, Diego de la Torre, a midfielder for Toluca, and Jesús Padilla, a striker for CD Guadalajara, have all been notified of a possible call-up by American officials in the near future.

With a lot of talk by players, media, and fans regarding the United States' supremacy over Mexico and the rest of the CONCACAF area these past few years, why is the USSF so paramount on scooping up discarded Mexican footballers?

The USA haven't had much of a problem defeating Rafael Márquez, Pável Pardo, Jared Borgetti and the rest of Mexico's brightest stars this decade, so why does it think that incorporating players not good enough for Mexico's national team will help it?

One reason might lie in the fact that while the US national team is dominating Mexico's squad, MLS clubs are not close to being on par with its Mexican counterparts.

Both countries usually export their brightest young stars to Europe, but in Mexico talented players pour out of youth squads into the top flight every season, whereas the US' flow can be described as molasses out of a jar.

With globalization permeating through world society and borders shrinking each day, the influx of immigrants to the United States has always been a source of talent for different sports.

However, Bob Bradley and Co. present a shadier, underhanded style of recruiting for US Soccer's needs.

America's failure to recognize the talent in players like Orozco, Padilla, and de la Torre among others during their teenage years led them to be scouted out by Mexican clubs, developing them for years in higher competition and presenting them in the top flight as polished footballers.

Though possibly not ready to be considered for Mexico's national team, Bradley's strategy has been to just beat them to the punch.

Thanks to FIFA's strict nationality rules, a player can only be considered for one country's national team after he or she plays in a full international game for said country.

Orozco and Torres, both in their early 20's, jumped at the chance to play for the United States when they felt they were not good enough at this time to play for Mexico.

It's one thing to display America's rich tapestry of cultures and races by utilizing players born, raised and developed in the country, but what does it say about America when it starts importing players left and right, taking advantage of a legal clause?

If Castillo, de la Torre, and Padilla ever choose to play for America, a Mexico-United States match could feature a total of 16 Mexican citizens on the field for both teams.

But, if Mexican scouts were smart enough to bring them to the country in the first place, why wouldn't they be smart enough to recognize when they could be ready to play for Mexico?

A national team by definition is an All-Star team, a team comprised of a country's best and brightest.

Bradley and USSF's attempts to coax young talent from Mexico is disgraceful to both Americans and Mexicans, in that they are fielding players who aren't yet talented enough to play for a national team.

Want proof? Orozco and Torres, along with several young American players, started in the 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago a few days ago.

It was the United States' first loss in the entire World Cup qualifying competition.