GUADALAJARA, Mexico — The dreaded first weeks of preseason — with the tedious running, grueling triple training sessions and arduous fitness routines — are almost over.
Friendlies have now begun in earnest with a little more than two weeks left until the Mexican Apertura 2011 kicks off — which means it’s about time to check in on how Americans South of the Border are getting on this preseason.
Having rejoined former coach José Luis Sánchez Solá (better known as “Chelís”) at Estudiantes Tecos last month, ex-Pachuca player Gómez has gotten some serious game time in the preseason friendlies and already looks to be gunning for a first-team slot.
Gómez netted a goal in each of the warmup games in Guadalajara against the Vaqueros de Ixtlán and Leones Negros last week. Although not on the score sheet for Tuesday’s game against Necaxa, the World Cup veteran started the match in a strong lineup with an average age of 30 years and nine months. Tecos’ opening game of the Apertura 2011 is on July 22 against Toluca.
The primary goal of the club is to move away from the relegation zone, hence the tried-and-tested experienced players Sánchez has brought in.
The Los Angeles-area native missed out on the first part of Tigres UANL preseason training camp due to Gold Cup commitments with the US national team, but joined up with the squad on June 29.
Bornstein, 26, played the second half of a rain-affected friendly against the Mexico Under-20 national team on July 2 but did not get any playing time during Tigres’ encounter with Jaguares de Chiapas on Wednesday morning.
Benched for the back end of the Clausura 2011, the left back has even more competition this Apertura 2011 with the arrival of 20-year-old Mexican-Argentine Eder Borelli from Querétaro.
Once again, Tigres have a squad likely to be challenging for the Mexican title. Bornstein will wear the No. 8 shirt.
On loan at Querétaro last season, where he scored three goals in nine games, the young forward will be part of the Club América squad this season, according to the club’s website.
The 20-year-old from the border town of Calexico, Calif., has been notching plenty of preseason minutes, starting the July 2 game against Santos Laguna and going close to opening the scoring with a header. On June 20 against Atlante, the tall striker managed to find the net in a 2-2 tie. Acuña could potentially be an interesting alternative option for América coach Carlos Reinoso, although new signing Cristian Benítez is sure to start in attack, probably alongside Matías Vuoso.
Ex US U-20 midfielder Guadarrama has found playing time hard to come by since he moved to Atlante FC in 2010 but remains part of the squad.
In a friendly on June 24, he came on for the second half in the team’s 2-1 victory over Tigres playing as a wingback. On Tuesday, the 24-year-old came off the bench for an hour against Inter Playa of the Mexican Segunda División. Atlante won 6-1.
The Austin, Texas, native travels Wednesday to his home state, where Atlante will play the Laredo Heat on Thursday evening.
Back at Club América following loan spells with Tigres, San Luis and Puebla, Castillo has the chance this season to consolidate his role in the outfit that had a notoriously leaky defense in the Clausura 2011.
Castillo, who has played for both Mexico and the United States at the international level, started a friendly game against Santos on July 2. On June 20, the 24-year-old came on at half time as América came back from 2-0 down to tie with Atlante.
The New Mexico native will travel with his club to the US to play friendly games against the Portland Timbers, Monarcas Morelia, Manchester City, Club Atlas, Juventus and Barcelona over the course of the next month.
As ever, only the title will do for Club América this Apertura 2011.
Check back on Sunday for Part 2 of this feature, when we'll look at the other US nationals playing in Mexico, including DaMarcus Beasley and José Francisco Torres.
Tom Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter: @mexicoworldcup