Mexico must nurture qualities of Jesus Corona and Jurgen Damm
They are human beings, but it would be worthwhile for Mexican soccer to "brand" them from the outset with a barcode and a label that clearly specifies: "For external use only."
The first steps on the road to Russia 2018 have made it clear that the future of the Mexican national soccer team lies in the feet and the inspiration of the young players: Jesus "El Tecatito" Corona (22 years of age) and Jurgen Damm (23) emerged just when Mexico most needed them and proved decisive in what appeared to be a difficult game on Honduran soil.
Corona must be nurtured. His qualities, which are almost unique in Mexican soccer, mean that he can be the player to make the difference on the field of play. He did so on Tuesday in San Pedro Sula with a moment of brilliance which ended up breaking the deadlock. He seems to be developing well in Europe, where he regularly appears in attack for Porto. The Portuguese side knows that he is just passing through and that this is just a step on the road to the highest level of European soccer. A lot of things can happen on the road. Fans have got to be demanding while also having patience with him. You never know with young players but "El Tecatito" is currently Mexican soccer's best bet to reach the very pinnacle of the game.
Damm's is an interesting case: a quick and very skillful footballer who also came up with a moment of genius on Honduran turf. He is a good player who should already be part of the Mexican contingent plying their trade in some of the mid-ranking European leagues (Netherlands, Portugal, France). Pachuca should have exported him directly. Now, Tigres almost have a moral commitment to Mexican soccer to ensure he reaches those levels. Hopefully it won't take too long. His potential to learn and grow is two or three times greater in Europe than it would be in the domestic league. It's clear to me that he's not a player for the Liga MX.
Mexican clubs need to balance their production. They need to produce players with the ability to be effective domestically and keep a "selective crop" of players with the skills to play at other levels. What is unacceptable is what Pachuca did with Damm: sell him domestically when they should have found the appropriate mechanisms to sell him to Europe, albeit while retaining their right to receive a sell-on percentage in future.
"El Tecatito" forced his departure from Monterrey while Damm moved to a team which doesn't have a good record when it comes to players who want to move to Europe (as was the case with Alan Pulido). Tigres has been more of an importer than an exporter for Mexican soccer in recent years.
The idea of having more and better players playing at the highest level would not only help the Mexican national team but would also improve the image and reputation of the Liga MX around the world. Mexico should have a fair balance between what it uses and what it sells. It's the right formula for improvement. For the moment, "El Tecatito" and Damm belong to a "special crop".
David Faitelson is based in Los Angeles and co-hosts "Nacion ESPN," ESPN Deportes' version of "SportsNation." Follow him on Twitter @Faitelson_ESPN.