CRISS-CROSSING THE BORDER
In the world of soccer, competitive advantage comes at a premium. As globalization makes our world a smaller place, new political situations challenge the sport's landscape.
Over the last decade, the rivalry between Mexico and the United States has intensified on and off the soccer field. The ever-increasing emigration from Mexico to the United States has reached an all time high.
At the same time, the US has risen as a legitimate challenger to the long held position of Mexico as North America's top soccer nation.
The two situations have now been intertwined by 19-year old Sonny Guadarrama.
An Austin, Texas native, Guadarrama is the son of Mexican parents that emigrated to the United States and has dual citizenship.
The former All-American at Campbell University has earned four appearances for the United States Under-18 and 20 National Teams and is a player on Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen's radar.
However, in mid October, the Santos Laguna midfielder was called into Mexico's U-20 National Team playing in two friendly games against Ecuador.
FIFA guidelines state that Guadarrama, eligible to play for either Mexico or the United States, has not appeared in an official FIFA competition for either nation and therefore is not cap-tied to either nation.
Once he appears in a FIFA sanctioned match, he would be eligible only once to change his national team choice and that it would have to occur before his 21st birthday.
Coach Rongen informed YA that he is aware of Guadarrama's status and says he has not ruled out inviting the playmaker to a future youth camp.
The boss, already into preparations for the 2007 World Youth Championships in Canada, could soon be faced with more competition from Mexico.
Guadarrama is not the only American player being pursued by south of the border. Floridian Salvador Hernandez and California's Victor Enrique Yanez were brought into Mexico's most recent U-17 National Team Camp.
Other Americans, including Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year Jonathan Bornstein and highly acclaimed teenage midfielder David Arvizu, are eligible to play for both national teams.
As the number of Mexican-Americans continues to increase year after year, the amount of highly skilled soccer players from this demographic will increase accordingly.
Furthermore, the number of national team prospects who were born, raised, and groomed in the US, yet show their allegiance to El Tri, will increase as well.
Mexico has witnessed the United States develop into a continental power over the last decade. The rivalry between the two nations has grown into one of the fiercest on this side of the Atlantic.
In order for Mexico to maintain it's foothold on the region, it will do what it has to do to remain supreme in the region including importing foreign-born players.
The precedent has already been set south of the border as Argentine-born forward Guillermo Franco and Brazilian-born midfielder Zinha were included in Mexico's 2006 World Cup squad.
This new philosophy has been led by Jesus Ramirez; who led the junior Tricolores to the Under-17 World Championship in 2005. Ramirez brought Spain resident Giovanni dos Santos, the child of a Brazilian father and Mexican mother, to El Tri and led the nation to it's first ever world title at any level.
Ramirez has stated publicly that he will call any player of Mexican descent, regardless of where the player was born or raised, including the United States.
As the player pool eligible to play for both countries skyrockets over the next decade, it will only be a matter of time before one of America's own is donning red, white and green instead of the Red, White & Blue in World Cup competition.
Best get used to the idea now.