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Record contingent in Mexico's Liga MX
by Paul Kennedy, April 28th, 2014 8:23PM

TAGS:  americans abroad, mexico


[AMERICANS ABROAD] A record 15 Americans who grew up in the U.S. youth system -- including six from Tijuana -- played in Mexico's Liga MX, which concluded its Torneo Clausura regular season on Sunday. It's the largest group of Americans to play in a top-level foreign league in a season, breaking the record set in 2006-07 when 14 Americans (including Giuseppe Rossi) played in the English Premier League.

The number of Americans in the Liga MX is up from 12 in 2012-13 as six players made their first division debuts this season. They include U.S. youth international Paul Arriola, who played 19 games for Tijuana after signing from the LA Galaxy academy last summer, and Dennis Flores, signed only months earlier by Torneo Apertura champion Leon after being spotted at the Alianza de Futbol tryouts.

Only the players from Tijuana, Leon and Cruz Azul are involved in the Torneo Clausura playoffs that begin this week.

Despite the large contingent of Americans, only DaMarcus Beasley, the lone player who is not Mexican-American, would be assured of making the U.S. World Cup team at this point. Three other players -- Edgar Castillo, who led all players with 30 appearances, Joe Corona and Herculez Gomez -- took part in World Cup qualifying but are not sure of even making the 30-player short list. Jose Torres, Jonathan Bornstein and Gomez, the only holdovers from the 2010 U.S. World Cup team along with Beasley, have slim hopes being invited into Jurgen Klinsmann's May camp.

Six more American products played in the Liga de Ascenso, the second division, including Necaxa’s Sonny Guadarrama and Ventura Alvarado, who had played in the Liga MX in 2012-13. The other player who played in the Liga MX in 2012-13 but not in 2013-14 was Benji Joya, who played for Santos in the Copa MX last fall before joining the Chicago Fire on loan.

The three MLS players who moved to Cruz Azul in January made a combined three appearances in the Liga MX. Michael Farfan's single 10-minute stint earned him a Team of the Week selection as he scored for La Maquina. Rafael Baca, who attended Loyola Marymount before joining the San Jose Earthquakes but is not a U.S. citizen, played two games for Cruz Azul. On loan from the LA Galaxy, Jose Villarreal did not play for the Cruz Azul first team, though he played for its Sub-20s and made one appearance in the Liga de Ascenso for Cruz Azul Hidalgo, its farm team.

Stevie Rodriguez, another member of the Tijuana contingent, was one of several young Americans to play on loan for second division Dorados in the Copa MX, pushing the total number of U.S. players to play for Mexican first or second division teams to 23 in 2013-14. The Xolos players were eligible for short-term loans to Dorados because Tijuana was playing in the Concacaf Champions League and therefore not entered in the Copa MX.

The American group at Tijuana also includes 17-year-old Fernando Arce Jr., who made his Liga MX debut in the spring. The son of the Mexican international and Tijuana midfielder of the same name, Arce was born in Southern California but grew up in Mexico.

Other American-born and Mexican-bred players in the Liga MX include Mexico World Cup hopefuls Isaac Brizuela and Miguel Ponce, both of Toluca. Leon keeper William Yarbrough was born in Mexico to American parents.

All the Mexican-American products hail from California or Texas except Castillo, who is from New Mexico, and Alvarado, who grew up in the Phoenix area.

Liga MX:
30/0 Edgar Castillo
29/2 Jose Torres (Tigres)
28/1 DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla)
26/1 Michael Orozco (Puebla)
20/0 Herculez Gomez (Tijuana)
19/1 *Paul Arriola (Tijuana)
19/0 Greg Garza (Tijuana)
19/0 Joe Corona (Tijuana)
3/0 Jonathan Bornstein (Tigres/Atlante)
3/0 *Gabriel Farfan (Chiapas)
2/0 *Alejandro Guido (Tijuana)
2/0 *Dennis Flores (Leon)
1/1 *Michael Farfan (Cruz Azul)
1/0 Alonso Hernandez (Monterrey)
1/0 *Miguel Palafox (Leon)
*Made Liga MX debut in 2013-14.

Liga de Ascenso:
37/4 Sonny Guadarrama (Atlante)
24/3 Jesus Padilla (Dorados/Ballenas Galeana)
21/0 Ventura Alvarado (Necaxa)
18/0 Marco Antonio Vidal (Lobos BUAP)
3/0 Austin Guerrero (Altamira)
1/0 Jose Villarreal (Cruz Azul Hidalgo)

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: April 28, 2014 at 9:44 p.m.
    More and more American products playing in Mexico indicates that the American youth system has improved significantly. In few years, the US academies will produce enough high quality players to fill both the expanded MLS and LIGA MX. the future of CONCACAF is bright.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: April 29, 2014 at 2:49 a.m.
    Thank you Gus Keri! This sort of "vindicates" the earlier works by a "whole bunch of us" and the former Latin American soccer coaches Association (LASCA) about the talented players that US Soccer has ignored for so many years, if not decades, though I must say that the so-called Alianza de Futbol, is more about a for profit organization than what has been generally told the public, though I must say that it is a "feather in their cap" for having "spotted" the players, it is being done with a profit motive in mind! Maybe I am being too altruistic in saying this, but then again.... let your imagination run wild. Good luck to the muchachos!

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: April 29, 2014 at 8:48 a.m.
    Professor...Compensation has been "for profit" for decades except in the United States...or shall I say to Directors of Coaching and Coaches! How do you think (abroad) that is small clubs who develop survive??? By asking the parents for money? This is the biggest "debacle" world soccer has ever seen! Paying to play??? The DOC's making the decent money should be ashamed of themselves let alone coaches who conduct baby sitting services! Finally we are realizing (doesn't take a college degree to see this) that there are RULES, FIFA Rules that deal with Youth Player Transfers. I have provided (yes, free of charge) for you all to observe. It takes "one" good transfer to pay for a couple of seasons of expenses. Case in point: Jose Villareal! Galaxy owes "years" of compensation to the South Bay Force where Jose's family paid "1000,00's of dollars to play! Now if Cruz Azul has compensated the Galaxy 1 red penny (he might be on loan but when the time comes) the SF Force should go right to Court! Same goes with Gyasi Zardes and many others. US Soccer is still on the Amateur level but maybe in the future we see a change. My brother Costa and myself took 2 Armenian Americans with Greek decent to Greece back in the 90's...everyone received compensation including the American Youth clubs. We consider ourselves "correct" in our business! Have a great day American Soccer people!

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: April 29, 2014 at 9:05 a.m.
    One more comment: We are the only country in the World where there is a "disconnect!" Yes, we can say that the MLS is higher in "caliber" regarding the monetary issue. But in terms of playing level, NASL and USL clubs can compete hands down. All 3 must be connected. Up-Down, Promotion-Relegation. We must make this happen! The same in the be honest the level is "Rec!" compared to the rest of the world Youth Professional leagues. Simply, for a club to be part of the Academy league they have to prove that monetary wise they are of the level! What sort of "BS" is this? US Soccer needs to change its leadership! I'll tell you this much, should we be "out" in the 1st round there should be some sort of protest...or is everyone happy getting there 1500 a month coaching U-11 girls! By the way, should anyone question my opinion I will gladly hand over my resume...yes, I qualify! Have a great day!

  1. esmaldo hernandez
    commented on: April 29, 2014 at 12:47 p.m.
    Great comments

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: April 29, 2014 at 3:11 p.m.
    Peter, you've missed my point re: the "for-profit" remark. My comment was more to the point that what is happening now, right now, is that finally US Soccer is getting its collective head out of the sand and has at long last, begun to recognize the American players of Latino heritage's abilities, thanks to the new generation of MNT coaches, Reyna, Ramos, Perez, Cabrera, etc. As for the 'for-profit' angle, I aimed my comment at the Alianza group. Take a very close look at it's make up and you'll see what I mean.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: April 29, 2014 at 3:15 p.m.
    To Kicking Screaming: I am not against or knocking making a profit, its just that in all my years involved in this sport, it rankles the heck outta me when I see "new" groups supposedly "come up with a novel idea" as has the Alianza outfit. Does anyone really think they're being that altruistic? Anyhow, as Esmaldo Hernandez puts it, great comments! Saludos y abrazos!

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: April 29, 2014 at 9:25 p.m.
    Kicking: Your question is spot on, and perhaps my somewhat "simplified" answer is as Paul Gardner has been saying for almost more than the past twenty years and that is that US Soccer was been deeply ingrained with the European/UK mentality and what can be said was a "good old boy network" of USSF licensed coaches with a similar mindset; as for player ID, from what I know, Alianza appears to be doing the "scouting" and IDing for the benefit of Liga MX and other countries, which is fine, though it would be better if they did so for the benefit of MLS, and quite possible colleges/universities - if they could somehow get around the archaic NCAA.... oh, but wait, other sports have similar programs, e.g. summer basketball leagues, football combines, etc.... so the NCAA can be and more than like is circumvented and it wouldn't surprise me if they get some "contribution" by those altruistic folks.... .

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