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19 de Noviembre 2017
18:30 HRS.
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Santos Laguna continues practice of strong youth investment

13 de Noviembre del 2017 9:06 pm.

Continuing the practice of developing players and taking advantage of its vast supply of youth talent, Santos Laguna traveled last week to Monterrey with three players from Fuerzas Basicas, completing its 23 man roster which was missing right back Jorge Sanchez to suspension, and defenders Nestor Araujo and Jorge Villafaña to national team duty. 

Defenders Oscar Manzanarez, Jorge Gonzalez, and Diego Barraza made the four-hour trip by bus with the first team. Manzanarez, captain of the second division team, was given his league debut that night in the second half vs. Rayados. 

From Monterrey, los Guerreros would travel the next morning to Los Anegels to face Leon in an international frienly during the FIFA break. One day before the game against Rayados, U20 defender Barazza says he didn't expect for head coach Robert Dante Siboldi to ask him for his passport and visa. 

"He told me to be ready with my passport and visa the night before," he recalls. "He told me he wanted me to be prepared in case I was called upon to play." 

Barraza, a Torreon-native and Mexico U18 international who speaks fluent English, said that he was looking forward to the experience during the flight to the west coast, and that Siboldi was very comforting when they spoke about what to anticipate for his potential first playing experience with the first team. 

"He just told me not to be nervous, that I needed the experience as part of being a professional, that he would guide me through it," he said. "It was very emotional, because I know it's field with a lot of history in the United States where great players from around the world have played.

"I was excited," he said. "The players have been very welcoming to me and help me. I feel very content to be able to share a lockerroom with a group of talented players who transmit in me a lot of confidence." 

Siboldi has led Santos' youth development as Fuerzas Basicas director since 2014, which is useful in the selection of players needed for the first team. The Uruguayan head coach of los Guerreros included Barraza in the starting lineup Saturday night against La Fierra in Stubhub Center, where players like David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Landon Donovan, and other international super stars have grazed the playing field throughout their professional careers with the LA Galaxy.

It wouldn't be the first time Santos has used youth players in international friendlies. Gonzalez, current U20 team captain, saw time against Tigres in San Antonio in September and again vs. Leon on Saturday,  and made the first team's preseason trip with other youth players in 2016.