American Exports: The mysterious provenance of Club Tijuana starlet Bruno Piceno
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – If the name Bruno Piceno doesn’t ring any bells for even the most hardcore of US soccer fans, you can be forgiven.
The 21-year-old Club Tijuana youth team product has come into the first-team reckoning at the club in the last couple of months, netting his first goal against Chivas de Guadalajara in the final game of the Liga MX regular season, a 4-0 win.
The stocky striker is listed as a being born in Tijuana on the Liga MX website, but MLSsoccer.com has learned he is actually the latest American to surface in the Xolos' first team.
“These last couple of weeks, four players from the youth system played in either the last game in the Mexican division, or in the Copa Libertadores, as is the case of Bruno Piceno, who is also an American,” Xolos assistant GM Roberto Cornejo told MLSsoccer.com last week. “He was born in San Diego.”
Cornejo added that the finding came as a surprise to the club, but that he personally has seen the young player’s US passport.
According to the club website, Piceno is “one of the most prominent goal-scorers in the Rojingegros youth system, scoring 38 goals for Club Tijuana at [the] youth level.”
The dual national debuted in the Liga de Ascenso aged 18 during the Apertura 2009 tournament and made his Liga MX debut this past Clausura season against Tigres UANL. He came on for the last few minutes of Tijuana’s 2-2 tie at home against Atlético Mineiro in the Copa Libertadores last Thursday.
Striker Piceno will likely feature for Xolos in the club’s CONCACAF Champions League campaign this summer and MLS fans might know him for the 25-yard free kick he scored against the LA Galaxy this past February in a preseason match in the Home Depot Center.
Club Tijuana already have at least six Americans players in or floating around the first team squad, including Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, Greg Garza, Alejandro Guido, Stevie Rodriguez and Raul Rodriguez.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.