This January, many of the best prospects in South America will face off in the South American Youth Football Championship. The tournament, essentially the Copa America for U20 players, has been a showcase for some of the continent’s stars in the past.
Just look at some recent players. In 2017, Racing Club forward Lautaro Martínez finished as the tournament’s joint-top goalscorer with five goals. Five years later, he lifted the World Cup with Argentina. In 2015, Giovanni Simeone starred — now he has a chance to win Napoli’s first Serie A title in more than 30 years. Going back further, the likes of Edinson Cavani, Neymar, Adriano, Romário, and more all impressed and finished as top scorers in the tournament.
However, despite what many may expect, the tournament is far from a monopoly. Brazil, usually dominant in South American competitions, hasn’t won since 2011 — although they’ve won it a record 11 times. Uruguay has the second-most wins, with eight, and Argentina is third, with five. After them, Colombia has won three times, and Paraguay and Ecuador (the defending champions) each won once.
Despite the relative openness of the tournament, one nation stands out for its lack of success: Chile. Despite winning the Copa America twice and recording a podium finish at a World Cup (more on that here), the most they’ve managed was second place in 1975.
This year, however, Chile has a slightly easier group and a very talented squad. This team has the potential to make it far — and if they do, they’ll depend on 18-year-old star Darío Osorio.
RW Darío Osorio, 18, Club Universidad de Chile
Osorio was born in Hijuelas, Chile, and featured for the youth teams of Santiago Wanderers and the Escuela Municipal Hijuelas. In 2015, he joined the academy of Club Universidad de Chile, one of the most successful teams in Chilean history.
Last January, he featured for the club in un Torneo de Verano — a South American summer tournament — and scored in the opener against Colo-Colo. Only 17 years old, Osorio held off a defender in his own half before using his speed and taking the ball all the way before neatly finishing past Chilean International Brayan Cortés.
Osorio officially debuted last February just one month after turning 18. A couple of matches later, he scored his first senior goal, making him the seventh-youngest goalscorer in the club’s illustrious history. Osorio then scored in his next match and did so one more time before the international break.
Osorio was called up for the Kirin Cup (another friendly tournament) in June for the Chilean national team, becoming the eleventh youngest player in Chile’s history. When he returned to club action, he was on fire, scoring four more times. At the end of the Primera División season, he scored seven times, the second-most on the team.
There’s a lot to like about the Chilean winger. His dribbling is arguably his best trait, regularly slaloming through opposing defenses with ease. This is helped by an excellent first touch, keeping the ball close as soon as he receives it. Osorio has excellent vision and passing, able to find teammates from anywhere on the field. Even his shooting and finishing — not always strengths for wingers — are some of the best in Chile.
For Club Universidad de Chile, the South American Youth Football Championship is a great opportunity to drive up Osorio’s value. A strong tournament could create demand for the 18-year-old, who is under contract until 2025. Osorio is already being linked with clubs across Europe — a move to Italy in particular could be beneficial for the Chilean talent.
Osorio has all the potential to be one of the best players in Chile’s recent history. In a couple of weeks, he’s going to show it off on one of the biggest stages of his life.
Don’t worry if your comment does not show up, all comments must be approved to reduce spam. I hope you enjoyed, and as always, keep watching soccer!