Interview by Mike Woitalla
Sonny Guadarrama is a 20-year-old midfielder who was born and raised in Texas and played at Campbell University in 2005 before turning pro with Santos Laguna of the Mexican First Division. He has dual U.S./Mexican citizenship and shortly after signing with Santos was called up by Mexico's U-20 national team, which is preparing for the Under-20 World Cup in Canada this summer.
SOCCER AMERICA: You've been playing with Mexico's U-20 national team but are still eligible to play for the USA. What's your current situation?
SONNY GUADARRAMA: I've been called into a couple of camps with Mexico's U-20s and will be going on a trip with them to Argentina. I hope to be in the running for a spot at the U-20 World Cup [July 1-22], and if not, for the Pan American Games in Brazil [July 13-29]. It looks like they might make two teams - one for the U-20 World Cup and one for the Pan American Games.
SA: You've been to camps with U.S. youth national teams. What's your status with the U.S. national team program?
SG: Right now I have had no contact with the U.S. national team, and this late in the running I'm not expecting a call from them. Ultimately, my goal is to make it to the World Cup, and it's great to have two chances with two different countries, so I will take advantage of it. But right now, it looks like I'm having better chances with Mexico.
SA: You made your Mexican First Division debut with Santos last November, and are now seeing time with their Primera A (second tier) team. How are things going?
SG:It's a tough situation, because with one game left in the season, other teams' results will determine whether Santos stays in the First Division. At the start of this season [Clausura '07], I was with the first division team every game [seeing action in three games]. Then they moved me to the Primera A team, which I didn't mind because it helped me get into shape and get my rhythm back.
SA: How different is the Mexican second division, the Primera A, from the first division?
SG: The Primera A play is more fast-paced and there's a lot more fouling. There's less pressure because there are fewer people in the stands. In the top division, it's a lot more about positioning on the field and being in the right spot. It's a slower pace, but in the final third, when you have the ball, it speeds up. And you're on national television and usually the stadiums are filled to capacity. Right now, I'm looking forward to next season with Santos. After being here a year I've gotten used to the way things work and am getting confident in my play.
SA: What's it been like adjusting to life as a professional soccer player?
SG:Growing up as a kid, all I ever dreamed about was playing pro soccer and thinking how easy my life would be playing soccer for a living. But it is a lot different from youth and college soccer. It has become a job, and all that matters is winning, to please the owners, coaches and fans. I enjoy it very much, but it does wear you out at times.
SA: Your brother Willy, with whom also played with at Campbell University, is now with the Kansas City Wizards while you're in Mexico. Do you imagine that your experience in Mexico is much different than being in MLS?
SG:I think MLS is very different from the Mexican league, but I think I could manage to adapt to both leagues, so I wouldn't mind playing in either league. Hopefully, one day I can play again with my brother, whether it be in MLS or in Mexico.