Future US And Mexican Stars Compete In The Toulon Tournament
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Last month the United States and the Mexico under-23 squads faced off, another clash in the long-lived rivalry between the two nations as they continue to fight for the title of the best team in CONCACAF. The result was a second loss for Mexico against their rivals from north of the Rio Grande and a second goal against them in as many games for Jordan Morris--he scored in both this clash and the US senior team victory against Mexico earlier in the spring.
The chance for Mexico, the current Olympic Gold Medal winners and under-23 champions, to take revenge comes early this year as both teams have been invited to this year's Toulon Tournament.
The Toulon Tournament is an under-21 competition between invited teams, meant to highlight future talent and is one of the first youth international tournaments, having been founding in 1967, taking place in the Toulon region of France.
In the past the tournament has been a venue to highlight talented young footballers before they became famous, such as : Zidane, Henry, Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Rui Costa among others.
Mexico has previously won this tournament in 2012, though the last two years have been dominated by an extremely talented Brazil side. The United States on the other hand has yet to win and has not taken part in the tournament since 2013, where they took seventh place.
While the under-20 World Cup will most definitely be the youth international tournament to watch, a number of great players who have either aged out or are cup tied will be travelling to Toulon to compete in the tournament.
For the US, in addition to Jordan Morris--who is the u23's top scorer with 3 goals in 4 games--, Julian Green and goalkeeper Cody Cropper, the team features seven players who featured in the US's 2013 Toulon campaign and eleven players who made the squad against Mexico earlier in the year. This includes Dillon Serna and Shane O'Neill who both recorded assists against Mexico.
Mexico itself is bringing along a powerhouse team featuring many players with professional experience in Liga MX and a number of players from their under-17 World Cup champion team. Jonathan Espericueta notched two during Mexico's championship run at the u17 World Cup alongside teammate Armando Zamorano. Alfonso Tamay played with the Tigres for the Clausura 2011 u17 tournament where he won the goal scoring title after finding the back of the net 17 times, meanwhile in 2014 while on loan to Puebla he's scored once in four games. Ángel Zaldívar, while on loan to Tepic in the Mexican second division from Guadalajara, scored three times in ten appearances.
Both sides will be using this tournament and the under-20 World Cup to rate their players ahead of Olympic qualifying later in the year. So anyone that performs well has a shot at making that final roster.
If these two teams are to face off they'll need to escape the group stages and make it to the knockout rounds. This is easier said than done as they US will need to navigate a group consisting of France, The Netherlands, Costa Rica and Qatar. Mexico's path to the knockout rounds isn't much easier, they'll need to beat England, Ivory Coast, Morocco and China. Even then there's a chance that they won't face off until the final, if both teams are even able to make it that far.
The tournament starts on Wednesday, May 27th with The Netherlands vs Costa Rica followed by the United States vs France. Mexico opens the festivities the next day against Ivory Coast, followed by England vs Morocco. Each team gets a day off between matches and the tournament runs every day from the 27th until the final in Toulon on Sunday, June 7th. In the United States BeIN Sports is carrying the tournament so be sure to check your local listings and set your DVR.