Wednesday, October 25, 2006

An American playing for Mexico

The newest member of Mexico's U-20 side is American Sonny Guadarrama. He is a 19-year old from Austin, Texas, who is the son of Mexican emigrants to the United States and who has already played four internationals for the Americans at the U20 and U18 levels.

However, none of his games were for an 'official FIFA championship,' so he is free to move to the Mexican lineup.

His reasons are partly due to his upbringing, his dad raised him on Mexican soccer, but it is also due to Mexico's standing in world football.

"The U.S. is a more an up-and-coming country, and Mexico has established itself as one of the powerhouses of soccer," Guadarrama said. "People are more scared to play against a Mexican side than a U.S. side."

It is a loss every time a talented player that could wear the red, white and blue goes elsewhere, but this might just be the start of a frustrating trend as Mexico is looking at other young American's of Mexican ancestry.

Mexico has seen the United States rise in the past decade to challenge as the top team in the region. Besides Guadarrama, it also reportedly has looked at other Americans, including U17 players Salvador Hernandez from Miami and Victor Enrique Yanez from California.

The new openness to foreign-based players has been spearheaded by Mexico's youth coach Jesus "Chucho" Ramirez, who led Mexico's U17 team to its first world championship last year.

A crucial element in Ramirez's 2005 triumph was his discovery of Giovanni dos Santos, the son of a Mexican mother and Brazilian father, who was living in Spain.

A trend like this points to yet another reason why American soccer needs to increase their outreach to those not of European genealogy. The more we make young players, regardless of their background, be proud to be part of the American system, the better chance we will have of keeping our best talent. If we do not do this, we will see more switching in the future. I'm sure this is part of the reason the next coach of the US men will need to speak Spanish.



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