Pablo Barrera Makes His Own World Cup Push

Barrera has 6 goals in the BC2010

I became a Pumas fan long ago for two very specific reasons: the uniform, and goals. Pumas had two legendary goal scorers when I was a wee one: Evanivaldo Castro – better known to the world as Cabinho, and Hugo Sanchez. As I have gotten older and have come to have a better understanding of what the club is really about: the youth system. The championships are nice, but my pride swells most when a Pumas youth product graduates to the national team.

Mexico’s 1986 side made is the only one to have made it to that elusive 5th game in the world cup. They had 7 such products on the squad. Of course, their coach, Bora Milutinovic was a former Pumas player and coach, so that helped some.

Over the years, Pumas academy graduates have littered world cup squads. And this time around, Javier Aguirre could name as many as six Pumas youth products to the final 23: Gerardo Torrado, Braulio Luna, Israel Castro, Efrain Juarez, Hector Moreno, and Pablo Barrera.

And out of that group, it is the young Barrera who is having the best season.

With the way that Chicharito Hernandez and Chivas started, it was easy to get caught up in the Chivas hype. Guilty as charged. It’s not often that an MFL team starts with 8 straight wins (first time ever, actually). Chicharito’s goals were a big part of that start. Lost in the frenzy, though, was Barrera.

Pumas doesn’t play the prettiest brand of futbol, far from it. “Ratonero” is how an americanista friend describes it. But Barrera has risen above Pumas’ rigid style. He had to. Pumas’ strikers started the season with a scoring allergy, so the midfielder picked up the slack with 4 of the teams first 5 goals. Because of Barrera, Pumas is only one point from matching last tournament’s total of 17 points. His total of 6 is currently tied for third on the scorer’s table.

The scorers table looks very different this tournament because the top 4 scorers, Javier Hernandez, Miguel Angel Zepeda, Miguel Sabah, and Pablo Barrera are all local boys. Goal scoring is typically out-sourced in the MFL. In fact, only two players, Jared Borgetti (twice) and Omar Bravo have earned top scorer honors since the turn of the century.

It must be a World Cup year.

Barrera’s national team duty has been somewhat inconsistent, which is why some folks consider him a bubble player for the final list. I don’t. He versatile enough to play on both flanks, is good on the ball, and has a terrific shot. Javier Aguirre is looking for guys that can play multiple positions, and Barrera fits the profile. He is also part of Mexico’s legion of speed. I have watched Mexico for a long time, and I cannot remember a time when the Tri has had this much quickness available. The counter attack can finally be added as a viable alternative.

The amount of get-up-and go surprises me; the amount of Pumas doesn't.