Sciaretta's Scouting Report

Ventura Alvarado: An American at Club America

Arizona native Ventura Alvarado, a 22-year-old defender, is making big strides at a big club—Liga MX powerhouse Club America. ASN's Brian Sciaretta spoke with Alvarado about his game and ambitions.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 22, 2014
1:13 PM
A FEW WEEKS INTO THE APERTURA, it's already clear that Club America has a very, very good team. In fact, there is a strong argument to be made that it is the best team outside of Europe right now.

In the sphere of Americans abroad, there are many young players trying to break into established clubs—Emerson Hyndman at Fulham, Rubio Rubin at Utrecht, Paul Arriola at Tijuana, and Will Packwood at Birmingham City to name just a few. All of these players have experience with U.S. youth national teams and are fairly well-known in soccer circles.

Twenty-two-year-old American defender Ventura Alvarado, however, is still flying under the radar despite the fact that he is starting to earn quality minutes for a very talented squad.

After making his season debut for Club America on August 9 when he was a second-half substitute in America’s 2-0 win over Tigres, Alvarado earned the start on Wednesday and went the full 90 minutes in Club America’s 6-1 win over Bayamon FC in the CONCACAF Champions League. In the 14th minute of that game, Alvarado headed home a corner kick to give America a 3-0 lead.

“I’m working hard,” Alvarado told American Soccer Now from Mexico City on Thursday. “In America, it’s always been really competitive. To be a part of the team, you have to have something good. I feel good and I am competing against the big players, the starters. I don’t feel far from them.”

Alvarado is a useful player because of his versatility on the backline and his quickness. Naturally a right-footed player, he is very strong with his left foot. For that reason he has been seeing a lot of minutes at left back although he insists he feels stronger in central defense.

Through the first five games of Liga Mx, Club America has a perfect 5-0-0 record outscoring opponents a combined 13-4. With its win over Bayamon, it is perfect through six in all competitions through an aggregate score of 19-5. In July, Club America played Atletico Madrid to a scoreless draw in a friendly in the Copa EuroAmericana. America eventually won on penalties.

One of the most impressive aspects about Club America this season is not only their undefeated start in Liga MX and the Champions League, it is the club’s depth. First-team head coach Antonio Mohamed has been able to alter his lineups depending on the competition without the club missing a beat. In addition, Club America’s U-20 team is also in first place in its division.

Argentina native Antonio Mohamed has been a successful head coach in Mexico and many American fans will recall the success he had at Club Tijuana working with U.S. internationals such as Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona and helping to deliver the 2012 Liga Mx Apertura title. Mohamed’s practices are known for being very competitive and internal battles for first-team minutes among players can be intense. For Alvarado, he has thrived under this regimen knowing that he is given a fair shot to compete for playing time.

“Sometimes in training, we beat the starters,” Alvarado explained. “It’s actually really competitive. We’re a real good team and it’s always real competitive but in a good way. The trainings are intense. The coach is always asking for it. He said he doesn’t care about the name on the back of the player’s jersey. Whoever is the best at that time is going to play.

“I feel mentally way better,” he added. “Competing with the big players every day, you don’t feel that far away.”

Alvarado signed with America's youth academy in 2008 and made his debut in the Copa MX in July 2012—a scoreless draw against Monterrey. Alvarado scored his first professional goal on February 19, 2013 in 3-1 a Copa MX win over Necaxa.

Last season, Club America sent Alvarado on loan to second-division Necaxa, where he became a starter in the backline and an integral part of the club. Necaxa narrowly missed promotion to Mexico's top tier.

Despite the disappointing ending to the Necaxa loan, Alvarado insists that the it was an extremely valuable year for his development in that it helped to add a physical edge to his game that had been missing.

“Before, I was kind of shy,” Alvarado said. “I wasn’t that strong and I wasn’t that physical of a player. It’s a different division and I had to learn. In the second division they are older and not that fast. It’s more contact. I actually learned how to use my body more. It helped me a lot. I learned how to talk more with my players and work on my communication.”

These days Alvarado is confident and when asked about the impact of his recent start and goal for Club America, he responded quickly: "It motivates me.”

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Alvarado has dual citizenship with both the United States and Mexico but he has never represented either team internationally at the youth level. Unfortunately due to his August 16, 1992 birthday, he misses out on being age-eligible for the 2016 Olympic team by four months (although he could conceivably be an overage player for the Olympics.)

When considering which national team Alvarado would like to play for, he admits he is conflicted. He watched both the U.S. and Mexico advance from their groups at the 2014 World Cup and realizes both teams are solid options. Instead of choosing teams, he prefers to let the teams choose him.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Alvarado said. “I feel good playing for both. Whoever calls me first, I’ll be glad to go. I’ll give it my all for whoever decides on me.”

He then added, however, that while he is undecided, the U.S. team’s fast-paced style is something that is particularly intriguing.

“Mexico is a little bit slower; they’re not slow but it’s a slower pace,” Alvarado said. “The U.S. has been playing well and I think they fit the style I play. They have fast players. I’m kind of a fast player and for the U.S., I think the entire team is really fast.”

Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.

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