Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Americans in Mexico

If you've ever followed the exploits of American-born soccer players plying their trade in a foreign country, then you probably know what Yanks Abroad means. It's a somewhat common term thanks to the continually growing number of Americans who make the move from their homeland to a foreign league.

However, I'm going to let you in on something. That term is misleading.

"Abroad" should be changed to "In Europe" to accurately reflect the common rundown of American players in foreign leagues you see across the Web. It should be "Yanks In Europe" or "Old World Yanks" or "American Players In England, Norway, Austria, Netherlands."

Or it should accurately reflect the "Abroad" part of its name.

(Warning, rant alert) Anyway, I don't know where along the line Mexico stopped being considered a foreign country. I mean, maybe it's easier for some to look over the Atlantic than looking down over our southern borders. Or maybe - and I'm guessing it's this one - people don't know that there are Americans playing professionally in the Mexican First Division. There are six American-born players who have seen action during the Clausura 2008 season, though if you keep tabs on with Yanks Abroad you probably weren't aware of that.

I don't know how others feel but to me this is quite an accomplishment. Yes, England is a great league. If you look at the amount of coverage given to the EPL, it's the best league ever. By leaps and bounds. I mean, I don't know why anyone else tries to play soccer since English clubs have perfected it. So I get that it's an accomplishment for Americans to play in the EPL. But is it really more of an accomplishment for an American to play for Norwegian clubs than for Mexican clubs? I don't think so. Yet we hear about all these Americans who make the leap and play for Norwegian clubs but we don't here shit about Michael Orozco, who after high school headed down to Mexico and is now a bona fide starter for a Mexican First Division club. And then suddenly Orozco makes the U.S. Under-23s and plays impressively and people are impressed. Well, yeah, he is a starter for a strong club in a strong league. (rant over)

Anyway, I decided to start this list of American-born players who play in Mexico. Maybe they're not good enough to be considered Yanks Abroad but I'll give them the attention they deserve. I figure I'll give you a rundown of the Americans playing down in Mexico. There are more than these players, several players including Carlos Borja with Chivas and Noel Castillo with Santos are in Mexican clubs' youth systems. And I don't care about whether a player is with what national team, all I care about with regards to this list is where the player was born.


Daniel Hernandez, 31, spent several seasons in Major League Soccer, playing with the Galaxy, Tampa Bay, MetroStars and New England over eight years. A native of Tyler, Texas, Hernandez has played with Necaxa and Puebla in the Mexican First Division as well.

This season, Hernandez has played in seven games and has started all of them. He's played 586 minutes and has a yellow card. On a Jaguares squad that is first atop Group 1 with 21 points through 12 games, Hernandez has played mostly on the backline.


A shooting star in the United States youth national team ranks, Orozco has been a mainstay with San Luis for more than one calendar year. After playing one game in the Apertura 2006 season, the Orange, Calif. native had eight starts in the Clausura 2007 season and became a regular member of Los Tuneros in the Apertura 2007 campaign, starting 15 games and playing 1,325 minutes. He is 22 years old.

This season, Orozco has played seven games - all starts - for a total of 451 minutes. He's picked up two yellow cards and one red card.


Edgar Castillo has been a somewhat prominent figure in recent months. Castillo was one of the few bright spots on Mexico's Under-23 national team. El Tri failed to get past the qualifying group stage but Castillo was one of the better players in the team's failed efforts. A native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Castillo debuted in the Clausura 2006 season and has played in 47 regular-season games, all with Santos.

Castillo, 21, has not been a regular this season mostly because of the time spent with the Under-23s. Castillo has started all five games he's played in and has a total of 405 minutes this season. He has a goal, which he scored on Feb. 13 in a 3-2 loss to Chivas.


Born in Longview, Texas, in 1987, Jose Francisco Torres is finding his way with Pachuca. Having risen through the ranks of Pachuca's youth system, Torres was thrust into the fire from the start. His first league game was a semifinal match against Toluca in the Clausura 2006 season, a circumstance created by Pachuca's participation in Copa Sudamericana. He played in four games before the satrt of the current campaign.

This season, Torres has made his impact with the club. he's started the last three league games and has played four matches overall.


Sonny Guadarrama played with Edgar Castillo at Santos but did not make anywhere near the amount of impact that Castillo did. Guadarrama, a native of Austin, Texas, played in only nine games over three seasons with Santos before moving to Morelia before the start of the Clausura 2008 season. He turned 21 earlier this year.

Guadarrama has battled for playing time with Monarcas. He's played in just three games for a total of 18 minutes during the Clausura 2008 season.


Jesus Padilla denied his American birth until he was proven otherwise. Padilla, 21, was born and raised in San Jose, Calif., but made an impression with Chivas de Guadalajara nonetheless. Padilla has been a part of the club's youth system since he was 14 but has struggled to make an impact with the first team. He played in just 11 games before the start of the Clausura 2008 season.

This season, he's played just twice for a total of 21 minutes. He's also played in Copa Libertadores this year, as he played the final 13 minutes in a match on Feb. 19.


RHdigitalYS said...

Great write up LB. I think it's just a function of prestige. Mexico's place in the eyes of the American is no secret.

Funny how there's always been an USMNT bias towards Mexican-American talent as well. I can't really remember anyone besides Orozco even being in the player pool. There's so much talent bouncing around in California it's sad.

I wish Coast Soccer League was more accessible or there was better scouting in the leagues not integrated into the USSF system (like in LA). The benefits would be enormous, but hopefully it's only a matter of time.

Frank said...


Good post. I was certainly in the group surprised to learn that Orozco played in Mexican First Division. I am not sure why Yanks Abroad reports typically cover players in Europe. We can speculate on cultural biases, but I don’t know the people that provide the YA coverage and don’t think it is fair to do so without speaking with them. To be clear, I do not think your post insinuates anything about the values of the people providing YA coverage.

Personally, I care more about players that are interested in representing the United States like Michael Orozco than players that just happened to be born here like Giuseppe Rossi. That is not meant to denigrate Rossi. His parents are from Italy and he identifies more with the Italian way of life. That is okay. The nice thing about this country is that you are free to choose.

I welcome further coverage of US players in Mexico. I think most US Soccer fans feel the same way. I tried to keep this brief, so I hope my intent was clear. Again, good post and I enjoy the blog.

The Hammer said...

Luis, Andrea, are you guys up for a bet? I have $5 for each says that Jesus Padilla gets silently dropped from the team at the end of the season, sent to el Tapatio or "loaned" to Chivas USA to "acquire more experience"

L.B. said...

Sorry, but I only make bets I have a chance of winning :)

papa bear said...

"Anyway, I don't know where along the line Mexico stopped being considered a foreign country."

About the same time the border went largely ignored. I don't mean that as controversially as it may sound, but the bulk of the soccer media is in California and there is a certian laissez faire attitiude towards that deliniation of the two countries.

A few weeks ago I refered to Blanco as having international appeal and was pretty roundly told that 'Mexico doesn't count' so the point remains...

P.S. Castillo plays for El Tri, no longer an American in footballer terms. Sorry. (also if the US stood by their own policies his citizenship would be revoked for taking another passport; that is technically the law but is rarely enforced)

East River said...

I don't think Yanks Abroad makes it a secret that they cover Yanks in Europe. I own a YA shirt from their website and in small letters it says on the front "European Soccer made in Europe."

But I would love for a blog any blog to cover the Americans playing in Mexico or any Latin American league. We have had several players playing in the Chilean league but that doesn't get covered either. An its not just YA who ignores them its US Soccer Players or Soccer by Ives even the US Soccer Global blog ignores reports on internationls in Mexico. Tuesday was the first time I had even heard of the Torres guy.

As far Papa Bear's statement, the US pretty much had to allow Americans to do dual citizenship so as not to loose all that tax money. Not an expert on all that but the US just had to change be more flexible on the subject.

Anonymous said...

You've certainly identified an area that could use more light shined it's way. Weekly updates please! Seriously though, more info on gringos in Mexico, less ranting on what a website / bigsoccer board decides to call themselves.

Anonymous said...

East River:

I don't think YA sold you a "European Soccer Made in Europe"; if they did, I'd like one, too, so it may join my stupid t-shirt collection.

Anonymous said...

I agree...I would say go a step beyond, and include the South American countries as well. I am sure there are americans in Brazil and Argentina, as well as others that we do not know about...

L.B. said...

My attack on Yanks Abroad wasn't really meant as an attack any specific web site but rather the phrase itself.

Anonymous said...

People forget that its not always US players saying no to playing in Mexico, how many foreign players play for Chivas in Mexico? The league loves to develop Mexican talent and are not welcoming to most Americans. Look at the pay difference, I bet a whole bunch of US players would want to be making their yearly MLS salary in one month in Mexico. I would rather play in the EPL or La Liga, of course, but lets not forget that Mexico would turn down most Americans just because they are not Mexican.

el rey said...

What is with Padilla lying about being an American. Since when is being an American a bad thing. I know Americans probably have a harder time breaking into team like Chivas, but I would love to see more young americans like Orozco who are proud of being American and not feeling the need to hide it. I don't care if they decide to play for El Tri like catillo, just don't be afraid or ashamed of your roots!!! we don't tell Mexican youth to feel ashmed or to hide where they were born. Double standard. I would emphatically boo padilla on principle every time he stepped on the field at Toyota Park!!

Anonymous said...

actually if you watch american soccer in gol tv you will see they do talk about the americans playing in mexico and south america. Its in their yanks abroad section towards the end of the show but you are right in the internet you dont really see to much coverage of of yanks abroad in mexico.

bdure said...

Years ago, various "Yanks Abroad" attempts tracked down every guy playing anywhere. Jonny Walker was a relative celebrity in those days.

But there were fewer players with big European clubs in those days. If you kept up with Keller at Millwall and argued Friedel's work-permit case, you had most of it covered.

My guess is that, over time, the sheer number of Americans in the EPL just took over the field of inquiry. I don't even hear much about Steve Cherundolo in the Bundesliga, much less Josh Wolff and company. I hear about players in Scandinavia, but I think that's because people are still a little puzzled that Americans would leave MLS to go there.

Jon E said...

There's actually a pretty dedicated cadre of "Yanks Abroad" hunters (go to BigSoccer and you'll find a dedicated group of guys tracking the rumored progress of Americans at fourth-division Italian sides), but most of them seem to be Europhiles.

Maybe Luis wasn't taking a swipe at Yanks Abroad (the website), but I will. It drives me batty that site calls itself "Yanks Abroad" but its slogan is "European Soccer Made in America." Either it's Yanks Abroad or its Yanks in Europe. Either is cool, but they should pick one.

Also, I can't help but wonder if there's an element of racism involved. (Not for everybody, of course. Not for the majority, in fact.) Still. If people are only concerned about Americans playing in the top foreign leagues, that's fine. Cover Europe only. But when you've got people looking at Norway and ignoring Mexico, something odd is going on. And it's surely not that Norwegian is easier to learn than Spanish.

Vault C said...

Hey Luis and AC,

I agree with a lot of what you've written. However, for me, if the player wants to represent another country (like Rossi and Castillo) my interest in them is nil. I want to know about the guys who might help out the USNT.

I will now follow Orozco with interest (just wish he were an attacker making waves in the Mexican League--wouldn't that be something?).

East River said...

Didn't mean to make it sound like you were attacking YA I believe I called out several other sites that ignore Americans playing in Mexico or Latin America. YA has covered Hernedez when he was at Necaxa at they did an article on him and they did a piece on someone playing in Chile one time but that really it. They just dropped all that and focused stricly on Europe. If you can get someone to cover people in Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, and Sweden surely you can get someone to cover Mexico. I mean come on we have millions of Mexican Americans and plenty more Americans who can speak enough spanish to cover the MFL.

Now I would love a blog that cover the MFL in English. I watch a lot of games on Univision, Azetca, and Telefutra but I don't understand Spanish. It would be great if a blogger made that his/hers blog passion.

Soledad said...

The problem is that all those guys clearly have Mexican names. Mexicans playing in Mexico don't count ... as Yanks or as playing aboad.

My theory could be wrong, but I don't think so.

East River said...

On that theory Michael Parkhurst playing in the UK would not be considered a Yank Abroad because he is British right? I mean the point is Americans playing outstide the US. Specially Americans decidated to playing for the US but playing in leagues outside the US. Saying they are Mexicans playing in Mexico totally misses the point. They are American citizens and were born and most were raised here. Funny Zat Whitebread and Quntin Westberg are two guys who have never really lived in the US yet they are considered Yanks Abroad because they pledge to play for the US. But a guy born and or raised in the US is not considered a Yank Abroad because he is a Mexican American playing in Mexico? Shit man if he wants to play for the US to me he's a Yank Abroad plain and simply. If he ids as being an American but plays abroad thats not so bad either.

A. Ruiz said...

Uhhhhhh.....just because a player choses to represent another country, doesn't make him less American.
Same as, if I served on the French Foreign Legion, I would not cease to be American.

Also, the USA allows double nationality.

bdure said...

The double nationality (or U.S. birth) raises another question -- the Yanks Abroad section at BigSoccer has had long-running debates over who is and who isn't a YA based on national team preference. Remember Espen Baardsen? U.S.-born Premier League goalkeeper, but he picked Norway and never drew much YA attention. The interest in Rossi has faded as it becomes more apparent that he prefers Italy.

Brad Friedel even draws less attention these days, surely in part because he has retired from the Nats.

That's not to say any of these guys are totally ignored, but the interest is just a little less than it is in, say, Bobby Convey.

L.B. said...

I suppose it depends on why someone follows Americans playing abroad. If it's for USMNT reasons, then obviously someone like Edgar Castillo wouldn't be of much interest. But if it's because the players were born here in the United States, then national team preference doesn't matter.

I've talked to both Castillo, Michael Orozco and Sonny Guadarrama. All three said they'd like to play in MLS someday. With that in mind, then, it may be good to keep tabs on these players since they may be MLS players in the near future.

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