BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, July 1, 2010
With the US U20 team currently gathered in San Jose, Tigres midfielder Victor Garza is making his debut with the team where he hopes a good showing will put him in head coach Thomas Rongen's future plans.
Now in the camp's fifth day, Garza feels as if things have been going well. The team features many players who have never been part of the U20 team before so building familiarity is the initial challenge.
"Everything is going great," Garza told YA from San Jose. "We are working as a team and we are building that chemistry that every team needs. My initial impressions are that [Rongen] is a really direct coach and that he likes to have a good speed of play. In these few days that I have been under his command, I think I've learned a lot that will help me with my soccer career."
Garza, 18, recently found out a few weeks ago that he was going to get called up and was excited to be part of the US program again. He had previously spent some time with the US U17 team while in residency at Bradenton.
"I was extremely happy when I got called up," Garza recalled. "I had mentioned it to my parents and teammates from the US national team that as soon as I got called up I would accept the invitation and that I would love to play for the USA."
While Garza was excited be called into the team by Rongen, he recently found himself faced with the difficult decision that confronts many talented dual nationals. Back in March, Garza was called up by the Mexican U18 team for a tournament in Barcelona.
Garza was initially planning on playing for Mexico in that tournament but did not go due to injury. The recent invitation however from the US forced him into thinking about his international options.
After talking things over with his family and with Rongen, he has decided the US is his top choice.
"Unfortunately I didn't attend that tournament [with Mexico because of] a minor injury during camp." Garza discussed. "But everything happens for a reason. It was a tough decision at the beginning and I already had a word with Coach Rongen about this, I talked about it with my parents and yeah I decided I would love to keep on playing for the US national team. [The] USA is my top choice."
Garza is one of many Mexican-Americans on the US team in San Jose for this camp. There are currently eight players on the roster that play for youth teams in Mexico and there are others, such as Real So Cal's Moises Orozco, who have played there recently.
While Garza is happy to be with a diverse group of people, having so many other Mexican based players on the team doesn't necessarily make things easier for him.
"I think Coach Rongen has made a great job reaching out for players playing all over the world," Garza said of the team's diversity. "Making things easier? No. I think it's never easy especially when competing against the best players in your country."
Garza put himself on the radar of both the US and Mexican youth national teams largely because of his strong play with Tigres after joining the club last year.
"My time at Tigres has been extremely good," the Edinburg, Texas native assessed. "I think it has been the best part of my soccer career including getting called by the national team. The coaches there at Tigres are great and I have improved my level of play since the moment I got there. I feel I learn something new every day."
Last summer, Garza signed a youth team contract with the Monterrey-area based club but recently found out that the club wants to possibly extend his contract in the coming weeks.
"I signed a three year deal with Tigres last year," Garza said of his contract with Tigres. "Everything is going well and I'm improving my skill. I was talking to my agent couple of days ago and he mentioned to me that Tigres wanted to renew my contract, so I'm looking forward to that."
With a deal in place that will have him with the club for the foreseeable future, Garza is looking forward to the upcoming season and hopefully earn a first team contract.
"My personal goal this upcoming season with Tigres would be to keep increasing my level of play, score as many goals possible, and to reach and sign a division one contract with Tigres," he admitted.
Garza's game is largely based around his ability to attack from the midfield. He prefers the wing positions and thrives at opportunities to take on defenders and beat them on the dribble.
"I play out on the wing, left or right," Garza said of his playing style. "At Tigres, in some occasions, I would play as an attacking midfielder. My style is I love taking people on and putting good crosses in for my teammates. I like to have a good speed of play and go forward. I like to have a lot of one-on-one, or one versus two's."
Now in San Jose, Garza will be looking to make his case to be part of the US U20 team as it builds towards U20 World Cup qualifying in January and eventually the U20 World Cup next summer in Colombia.
Making the World Cup team is a top priority for him and he feels as if he can achieve it so long as he continues to work hard and keep improving as a player.
"Yeah, it's a major goal that I'm willing to reach," Garza concluded. "I know there's a great level of competition out there so I need to work hard, prove myself, be willing to improve, and give it my best everyday to be in that final list for the World Cup in Colombia."