Gringo Report: Guido hops border to join hometown club

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – There's a neat symmetry to the life and career of new Club Tijuana signing Alejandro Guido.

San Diego-born, Tijuana-raised, Guido used to cross the border from his home in Mexico into the United States every day to go to school and play for the San Diego Aztecs, until he was 14 and went off to the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

Now 18, Guido is back border-hopping, only this time around he heads south from his parents' new residence in San Diego, across the world's busiest land border crossing at San Ysidro and in the direction of Club Tijuana's training ground.

The bilingual, bicultural attacking midfielder was one of the highlights of the US team in last year's U-17 World Cup in Mexico. Remember that outrageous 25-yard screamer against the Czech Republic?

Not surprisingly, Guido had a host of teams interested in signing him, but the Bradenton Academy graduate decided to take up the option of a trial at Vitesse in the Netherlands.

“It all looked good, I was about to sign, they were waiting for me to turn 18,” Guido told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. "Then they asked me to wait a little longer."

The stalling from the Eredivisie club played into Club Tijuana's hands. It was a major coup for the Mexican club to bring one of the most promising young players in the US game.

Offers from MLS and other Mexican clubs were on the table, but the pull of his hometown club was an important factor for Guido.

“There's that passion that you want to play for the team where you're from,” he said. “You want to debut and your family comes to watch you play.”

It wasn't the only reason behind the move. Guido cited the presence of experienced midfielders like Uruguayan international Egidio Arevalo, Mexican Fernando Arce and Brazilian Leandro Augusto as the types of player he can benefit from watching day in, day out.

Then there is the prospect of first-division football. It may come as a surprise that the youngster Guido is already training with the first team and has been told he is in the mix for action next season.

“They see me in the first team,” said Guido, who signed too late to be registered to play this season. “They want me to make my debut and try to get a spot in the starting 11.”

The signing of Guido means Club Tijuana have six Americans in the U-20 and first-team squads: Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona, Greg Garza, Bryan de la Fuente, Stevie Rodriguez and, now, Guido.

The son of a former Cruz Azul youth team player, Guido picks out Corona – who is only 21 himself – as someone he has leaned on for advice and words of wisdom.

“Joe has been really humble and really nice to me," Guido said. "When I was there for trials, he offered me several tips about how he took the opportunity from San Diego State. I think that helped me a lot. We had a similar approach and we went for it.”

A technical player who can play in the center of midfield, behind a main striker or on the wing, Guido has become a staple in US national team player pools both in the buildup to the U-17 World Cup and more recently in the camp earlier this month for the U-18 squad.

Having previously joined up with Mexico U-15s, Guido says he is comfortable in the US system and lauds the recent tweaks.

“I like the 4-3-3, the more offensive style, the possession,” he said. “If you're an attacking player, it's always positive to have coaches that want to promote an attacking style.”

It should come as no surprise that Guido is a firm adherent of the Barcelona style of play. His long-term goal is to play in Europe, make an impact for the senior national team and play at a World Cup.

For now though, it is back to crossing borders and working to make an impact next season with the Xolos.

Tom Marshall covers US players in Latin America. Contact him at tom.marshall.mex@gmail.com.