Hello and welcome back to the 65th edition of our favorite game show “Will this player choose to play for the U.S. Men’s National Team?” On this week’s show we look at Club America defender Ventura Alvarado, who will be making the difficult choice between the USMNT and Mexico over the next couple of weeks. But which team will he choose to represent?
Although the decision to choose a national team is never an easy one, fully credit should go to Alvarado for getting to this point. While many players come up from youth academies and are pegged by scouts for years, Alvarado kind of came out of left-field for the USMNT. He was never part of the US Soccer Youth Academy structure and because he moved to the Club America Youth Academy at a young age he was kind of hidden until recently.
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But Alvarado has made it on to the radar for both the MNT and the USMNT because he was able to make a strong impression with Club America. After going on loan to Necaxa in 2013, he came back to America and was a key cog in their run to the 2014 Apertura title. He took over for starter Paul Aguilar and impressed so much so that he has been the starter for America during the 2015 Clausura.
Club America currently sits in third place in the Clausura and will be playing in the Semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League against Herediano in two weeks.
The battle between the MNT and the USMNT is partially over his family background and the skills that he has shown at just 22 years of age. Although Alvarado was born in Phoenix, Arizona both of his parents are from Mexico which leaves him open to representing Mexico. He is also a center-back and can at times play left-back, positions that both countries currently covet.
Although he has just 37 club appearances between America and Necaxa he has shown tremendous poise and a knack for knowing how to make the correct angle at cutting off an attacker. At 6’0″ he also possesses some height which is always an asset on set pieces and crosses.
USMNT Coach/US Soccer Technical Director Jurgen Klinsmann seems to be more open toward bringing in players from Liga MX into the men’s and youth team fold. Players like Greg Garza, Dennis Flores, Julio Morales, Juan Requejo, Fernando Arce Jr., Paul Arriola, and Amando Moreno have all been given opportunities with the senior and U-20 national teams in recent months and will likely play critical roles for both sides.
For his part, Alvarado has kept his cards close to his chest in terms of what team he favors playing for. ESPN FC reported that he might be leaning towards the USA, but Alvarado shot those rumors, telling ESPN.com.mx “I only said that I hope that I am called either there or here [Mexico]. My dream is that one of the national teams calls me, but I did not say that I prefer the United States.”
His lack of a decision has infuriated some, including former USMNT forward Herculez Gomez who told ESPN.com.mx “If he feels he is Mexican he should say so or if he feels he is part of the United States he should say so, but with this he is showing disrespect to both countries. No fans want to see that. We want to see a player who is committed.” But it is a delicate process for a player. Choosing one country over another could greatly impact their entire career. Perhaps Alvarado should avoid the public comments, but he is within his right to weigh both options.
If he chooses the USMNT it would a tremendous feather in the cap for Jurgen Klinsmann. That is until we have another player in a similar situation and we are back to playing the same game.