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.
JOSE FRANCISCO TORRES
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.