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CONCACAF Watch

An American at Necaxa: Sonny Guadarrama's Trail

Jon Arnold talks to the Texas-born midfielder who hopes to help Necaxa earn a promotion to Liga MX. Elsewhere, Jerry Palacios (pictured with Robbie Rogers) forgets his passport in a cab.

BY Jon Arnold Posted
July 03, 2013
11:00 AM
In all likelihood, four Liga MX teams will regularly deploy Americans during the 2013 Apertura and 2014 Clausura. Sonny Guadarrama wants to take that total higher next season by getting his new club, Necaxa, promoted.

“I think they’ve invested in good players here. There’s actually a good chance of doing that if the team performs well. I think that would be my immediate goal is to try and help Necaxa move up to first division,” he told ASN in a phone interview. “Me personally, that would help just getting back to a team that’s in first division and hopefully getting enough playing time, which has been a struggle since I got to Mexico, getting first team minutes playing.”

The Austin, Texas native has tried to make the most of the time he’s earned, posting one of the best goals per minute numbers last season with Mérida in the Ascenso, Mexico’s second division. Not only did he score with some regularity, he scored when it mattered.

“I was on loan with Mérida for the past year and we had played against Necaxa twice, one home one away, and thankfully I got to score in each one of those games, so that probably helped,” he said. It was enough to inspire the Rayos (Lightning Bolts) to grab the Mexican-American on a yearlong loan with the option to buy.

It’s far too early to speculate on if he’ll be making Aguascalientes his permanent home after this year, but Guadarrama is off to a good start. He’s scored some phenomenal goals in preseason including a brace against Santos, the team that signed him after one year at Campbell University. Guadarrama started out strong last year as well, with goals in the first five matches across all competitions. But a few games without scoring saw playing time slip away. That’s because, he says, most teams bring in foreign players on big contracts to bolster their attack, making it tougher for players like him to see time. His stature probably doesn’t help either. Listed at five-foot-five, Guadarrama is sure some coaches underestimate his abilities. Growing up in the U.S. and playing a season at Campbell actually helped him cope.

“I got used to playing against bigger kids and in college it was definitely the same, and they were even bigger in college,” he said. “For me, it’s not really a problem because I’ve learned how to play against taller guys, and I would say one of my strengths is being quick, so I use my quickness to try and help me against the taller guys.”

Guadarrama isn’t the only American hoping to boost Necaxa into the top division. Ventura Alvarado, a center back born in Phoenix who was with Club América last year, will also sport the red-and-white stripes this season after joining the club on loan. They hang out and chat in English when they get the chance. “It’s good to have someone from the States on the team,” Guadarrama said.

The road map is there for the 26-year-old midfielder—and his 20-year-old pal—but it’s an arduous route. Get first team minutes, get promoted, and get spotted. Then? “If any national team coach wants to give me a shot, I’ll be ready,” Guadarrama says. A long shot now? Perhaps. But he’s proved himself against taller competition before.

Gold Cup
ASN just launched a Gold Cup portal with lots of information on the teams and players who will contest the confederation’s top prize. With plenty to keep you occupied over there, I’ll be brief, but I wanted to pass along a few notes.

Panama will be without Rolando Escobar. The midfielder was allowed to report late to camp because he was to be in Miami working out his contract situation. He missed the deadline to report back and manager Julio Dely Valdes kicked him off the team. Details are fuzzy, but some reports indicate the Escobar and his family detoured through Orlando to visit Disney World. The player refutes that but confirmed he was spending time with family.

You might think that’s the strangest pre-Gold Cup story, but this is CONCACAF after all. Honduran forward Jerry Palacios had to delay joining up with the team. He was flying out of Costa Rica where he plays for Alajuelense when he realized he’d left his travel documents in his wife’s car, which was at home. He hailed a cab home, grabbed the documents, and in the rush to make his flights managed to leave the documents, including his passport in the cab.

The build-up to the tournament has been pretty bad for some teams. Mexico lost to Cruz Azul’s second-division team. Mexico plays Queretaro in a Wednesday night friendly.

El Salvador lost to Metapan last week and drew with FAS Tuesday.

Canada could manage only a draw against the PDL's Ventura County Fusion.

CONCACAF Champions League
The Champions League is fast approaching, and CONCACAF released the fixtures using a nice PDF.

It might be early, but my games to watch each night of the first week are: August 6 FAS-Tijuana, August 7 Montreal Impact-San Jose Earthquakes, August 8 San Miguelito-America.

Video of the Week
Did you not see that Sonny Guadarrama video up there? That was amazing! Fine. Here’s a lot of goals from the Liga MX Clausura. 50 of them, they say, though I didn’t count. Jon Arnold is an ASN contributing editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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