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Joya makes rapid climb at Santos
by Paul Kennedy, September 27th, 2012 4:13PM

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TAGS:  americans abroad, development academy, mexico

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[AMERICANS ABROAD] U.S. under-20 international Benji Joya became the latest Mexican-American to debut in the Mexican First Division when he played last weekend in Santos' 0-0 draw against Jaguares. Joya, a product of Development Academy program De Anza Force, is one of three U-20s from Northern California to join Santos.

Joya, who just turned 19, has been at Santos for less than a year, so his rise is quite remarkable. He is an attacking midfielder by trade but has been playing right wing for Santos.

He was torn between going to college -- he was recruited by Cal State Bakersfield -- and turning pro after finishing high school in 2011. He was also torn being staying at home -- where he helped his mother with her janitorial business -- and going to Mexico, where his parents were born.

Joya attended Overfelt High School in San Jose but often went to school with four hours of sleep while working with his mother.

He has been helped at Santos by American star Herculez Gomez.

“He’s been a good friend and a great teammate,” Joya told Brian Sciaretta of the New York Times. “I asked him for some tips and he has helped me a lot. He’s been pushing me.”

The other U-20s at Santos are Daniel Cuevas, who played for California Development Academy, and Jesus Guzman, who was in the San Jose Earthquakes' academy. The three U-20s were spotted by California-based agent Maximiliano Roditis.

Torreon, Santos' hometown, is notorious for the violence that has swept the city in Mexico's drug war, but Joya said he was comfortable living at the club's training complex.

Mexican-American Pro Debuts
2006 Sammy Ochoa, UAG (age 19)
2006 Edgar Castillo, Santos (age 19)
2006 Jesus Padilla, Guadalajara (age 19)
2006 Michael Orozco, San Luis (age 20)
2006 Sonny Guadarrama, Santos (age 19)
2006 Jose Torres, Pachuca (age 19)
2012 Greg Garza, Tijuana (age 21)
2012 Gustavo Ruelas, Jaguares (age 19)
2012 Benji Joya, Santos (age 19)
Note: Debuts in Division I.



13 comments
  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: September 28, 2012 at 9:20 a.m.
    Wow!! Seems like Mexican league teams see a lot of potential in our Hispanic American Players. Turns out USA is producing quality talent and is doing much more in soccer rich cultures. Mexico league teams are hard to play for on top teams as they are showing to have a high level of play when compared to the best soccer countries in the world. What's more impressive is our USA Hispanics making these teams when Mexico allows very few foreign players per team (5). Santos is on of the most successful clubs in Mexico in the past 10-15 years along with all the northern Mexico teams like Monterrey and Tigres who also have shown great interest in Hispanic players in USA. All 3 are within 5-6 hours driving distance from the border. Now 1st Division Xolos from Tijuana emerged shortly after acquiring a few Hispanic Americans like Benny Corona. I love it!!

  1. Efrahim Fernandez
    commented on: September 28, 2012 at 10:12 a.m.
    Great news. How many of these young men are playing in USA national teams? Mexico were more importance is placed on the technical aspects off the game then the physical components is a good place for these boys. I certainly hope USA gets it.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: September 28, 2012 at 1:44 p.m.
    Please, fellow Americans (?) and those from Hispanic descent like myself.......Can we, just once, put away references to race and/or national origin?? It is very tiresome, as well as counterproductive.........Why it's not enough for some to just congratulate any American who does well in any foreign league is beyond the vast majority of soccer fans in this country......you undermine your own agenda with your comments about "mexican American" this, or "hispanic American" that, people dont' want to hear the constant divisiveness. And as far as style of play goes related to "technical aspects" vs. "physical components", its stupid to think that any coach who cares about his own success, disregards players who have one skill set or another. Both types are necessary based on who your opponents are and what they bring into a match. It's just plain rediculous to conclude one style is more successful than another!! The ball still has to hit the inside of the goal net afterall.....

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 28, 2012 at 5:56 p.m.
    To Senor Sapien: In my humble opinion, it is very apparent that you really do not understand or unable to see the entire panoramic picture. What Fernandez and Arreola, and I are trying to point out is the continuing lack of 20-20 vision that US Soccer and MLS of an almost perpetual ignorance of the ready-made Latino-Hispanic talent. Further, consider that if it wasn't for some writers in SA, Woitalla, Kennedy, Mahoney, and the somewhat little known Alianza run by former US Soccer President's son, Brad Rothenberg, this topic would not appear, so the persons "perpetuating" "references to race and/or national origin (sic)" Lastly, the topic would not be an "issue" if US Soccer/MLS and other groups did not have a myopic view of the situation. And as to your claim that we're "divisive," I strongly disagree with you because all we are doing is asking the why the soccer powers that wannabees aren't latching on to these players and keeping them here.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 28, 2012 at 5:59 p.m.
    Clarification: I meant to say that we aren't the ones perpetuating the topic, rather it is those Soccer America writers and Rothenberg (as well as so called "scouts" who are more than likely getting a "finder's fee" or a cut of a signed player's salary.)

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: September 28, 2012 at 7:22 p.m.
    Monsieur Fonseca, So your conclusion is that I am less educated, less life-experienced, and I assume, unable to grasp how much suffering hispanic-American soccer athletes are going through to make it domestically? Did you ever here of something known as "free will"? Where are your facts that the players themselves have somehow been treated with disservice by the league and national program mentioned. Additionally, where are your facts that there is this insidious "myopathy"? So, without that, all who read comments similar to yours, are left with the conclusion that you do not really concern yourself with fairness nor objectivity. If in fact you question, as you state, why "soccer powers aren't latching on to these players and keeping them here", that has some validity and it should be directed to those officials you are questioning. Instead you choose to voice comments with a victimization tone, and infer there is collusion involved. What else other than divisiveness would you like me to call that? And what the writers are doing is known as reporting. No where in the article does it mention an opinion that the US National team doesn't get it, nor that MLS doesn't have a clue about "ready-made Latino/hispanic talent". (what the hell does that mean anyway?) The only item being perpetuated is that you, Ric, Luis and others to some degree, always make the criticism that somehow hispanics are less represnted than they should be. So what you infer is that either there is collusion, or program/team officials are clueless. I'm surprised you just don't say it's racism.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: September 28, 2012 at 11:15 p.m.
    Chris, so what you are saying is that there is a perfectly good explanation for so many Hispanic American players going directly to Mexico league teams and proving to be good enough to start on those vastly superior teams when compared to Mls while at the same time never really getting even an oportunitg from anyone in USA? So what you imply is that we certainly had too much talent on our MLS or Ussf teams to evn look at these players? So what you also mean is that we are efficient in scouting that we somehow manage to mis these players a little too often? Which both styles needed do you speak of? I would say our top player pool better suits a more technical style of play. We are just too willing to see them go elsewhere. We are just stating the obvious. Everyone is ok with a black person saying they are the best at basketball or saying white man can't jump. That's acceptable. Hispanics are just more passionate about soccer, therefore more tecbically skilled. Everybody is good at something. Chris you should try embracing your heritage. What's great about this country is that all these cultures have something to contribute to one another but it all starts with accepting what these cultures are better at to learn from them. Has this happened with soccer and the Hispanic player in USA?

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 29, 2012 at 2:36 p.m.
    Luis: Well said. Sadly, Chris decided to assumne that I am French? Some people just can't see the trees for the forest... que lastima!

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: September 29, 2012 at 6:34 p.m.
    Ric, calling you that is what's known as satire buddy........for putting Senor infront of my name.....see, that is what's with both of you.....you claim to be knowledgeable and make accusations that people purposely deny hispanics from domestic opportunities, or that those in charge are too stupid to see their talent/abilitie etc., but never once have you sited proof. Why don't both of you start your own little crusade, and work at getting all your beloved hispanic players on these racist domestic programs through public outcry and marches?? Put your money where your mouth is......that is a what a true believer would do. Come-on boys, sacrifice for all those poor unfortunate kids who are constantly discriminated against as they struggle and put their efforts up against the oppressive officials of all these racist clubs. :( (FYI, satire again Ric). Luis, I'm not doing your homework for you buddy, the styles were mentioned earlier. And actually no, most people are not OK with someone claiming their race is superior over another race in any one characteristic or another, they just don't see any direct benefit in arguing the point. If you asked me to be honest about it, I would say black athletes can be superior in all sports if that is what they choose to do. Doesn't bother me, like it may someone like you, it's just a good bet that would be the case. Luis, you had a nice diatribe, up until the "heritage" statement, but the silliest part is when you equated the amount of "passion" someone has for a sport, to how "technically skilled" they become at it. That was another of your bonehead, unscientific rants. Mieux vaut faire que dire, Ric.

  1. Gordon Hayes
    commented on: September 30, 2012 at 2:53 a.m.
    I would not worry about it Chris - Luis and Ric are race-baiters and are so blinded by hate and ethnic divisiveness they cannot see their own flaws and how much their own flaws infect their own agenda and, sadly, the young hispanic player. They are about as good for hispanics as Al Sharpton is for blacks.......And always remember, they never really even played the game and never, ever believe anything Luis writes - he is a proven pathological liar so when he writes things implying the Mexican league teams are 'showing to have a high level when compared to the best soccer countries' as if to say the Mexican teams are on par with Barcelona and AC Milan and Bayern Munich - I am sure he will deny this and come up with some excuse like he always does......pity we even have to have race and ethnicity enter the equation. By the way, if one is born in America and has parents that were born in America what are we to call ourselves - American American?

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: September 30, 2012 at 9:52 p.m.
    Yea Gordon, that is exactly what you would calm yourself. Lol. The Mexico U17, U20, Olympic U23s are all Mexico league team products. Would that not speak for itself in regards to Mexico's teams when compared to other countries? Chris, in general in USA, which culture is more passionate at basketball and soccer? Then who happens to be more successful at these sports and notably more technically skilled at them? Are you blind?

  1. Gordon Hayes
    commented on: September 30, 2012 at 10:39 p.m.
    There you have it Chris - the article is about an AMERICAN playing for a Mexican league team and Luis writes about those same "Mexican league teams" being as good as teams from Spain and Germany, etc. but when he gets called out for such an idiotic, race-baiting statement what does he do? He does what Rafa Marquez would do - lies through his teeth and tries to twist it around......pity.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: October 1, 2012 at 10:11 p.m.
    Yes Gordon, all Hispanics are exactly like Rafa Marquez. That's really good. Where did you go to college again?


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