After winning the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in January, Mexico's youth squad will be heading into this year's U20 World Cup with high expectations.
Although El Tri has never won the tournament, Mexico appears likely to succeed with the impressive list of names that are on the current roster -- which may lead to some problems for Mexico manager Sergio Almaguer.
Due to their absence in January's CONCACAF tournament, Atletico Madrid's Diego Gama, Porto's Raul Gudino and Queretaro's Orbelin Pineda might have little influence in this competition. All three players are massive talents for El Tri but had small opportunities given during this month's friendlies before the World Cup. If said friendlies are any indication of Mexico's starting XI, we could expect minimal roles from a couple of the aforementioned players.
The silver lining in this situation is that Mexico currently has a good deal of depth in the U20 roster and may be able to afford to have talented options coming off the bench. Considering this, let's take a look at a few young players who could shine for El Tri this summer in New Zealand.
Here are my five Mexican players to watch for the U20 World Cup in New Zealand:
1. Hirving Lozano
Nineteen-year-old Hirving Lozano scored five times for Mexico during January's CONCACAF tournament and shared the Golden Boot award with American midfielder Romain Gall.
Since his Liga MX debut in February 2014, Lozano has become a key player for Pachuca with his pace and control on the ball. The midfielder has an immense amount of potential and could garner the attention from a few European clubs after the tournament.
With his speed on the wings, a player like Lozano should be one of the standout players from the U20 World Cup.
2. Erick Gutierrez
Part of Lozano's success could stem from the partnership with Erick Gutierrez in the midfield. Both youngsters play together in not only the national team, but Pachuca as well. While Lozano can run for miles with the ball, Gutierrez is the one who usually provides the set-up for plays.
Gutierrez captained El Tri during the CONCACAF tournament and will likely continue to lead the squad during the next few weeks in New Zealand. The central midfielder has excellent vision with the ball and is a fantastic distributor going forward.
The youngster is also a great finisher. Gutierrez finished the Clausura as Pachuca's leading goalscorer with six in all. Gutierrez has a dangerous long shot that could be a difference-maker for El Tri.
3. Alejandro Diaz
Due to the significant amount of attacking talent on Club America's roster, striker Alejandro Diaz has had trouble finding a starting role for the Mexico City club.
That being said, Diaz has been a vital member of the U20 squad and finished January's CONCACAF tournament as one of the four Mexican players in the competition's Best XI. Diaz was just one goal behind Lozano's five in the tournament.
Diaz also has the benefit of past experience with Mexico's youth squads. In 2013, the striker scored twice for the Mexican squad that finished in second place at the U-17 World Cup. Although it may be tempting to bring in a player like Gama, Diaz has done well up top as one of Mexico's two strikers.
4. Guillermo Martinez
Working alongside Diaz is Pachuca striker Guillermo Martinez. The 20-year-old scored three times during the CONCACAF tournament and scored twice during Mexico's four preparation matches this month.
The 20-year-old is a tall and strong presence in the attack who is also surprisingly fast for his stature. Martinez just made his Liga MX debut with Pachuca's senior team this January and will be an exciting prospect for Mexico's future. In last year's Apertura season, Martinez scored 13 times in his 12 games with Pachuca's U20 squad.
5. Orbelin Pineda
As mentioned before, based off of Almaguer's roster selection from the recent friendlies, players such as Pineda, Gama, and Gudino might struggle to consistently find a spot in the starting XI. It's a risky move by the manager who should consider the likes of a talent like Pineda. Early rumors have put Gudino as a possible candidate in goal, but there is little evidence at the moment that indicates a start for Pineda.
The midfielder was arguably one of the best in the Clausura in his breakout season with Queretaro. Pineda has an endless amount of energy and has scored a few highlight-worthy goals this year for Los Gallos Blancos' senior team.
If Pineda is given a chance to sneak onto the pitch, the midfielder could be one of the surprise players of the tournament.