GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Phoenix native Ventura Alvarado struggles to put into words the emotions of Club América’s epic 2-1 comeback victory over Cruz Azul in this past May’s Liga MX finals.
He settles on describing it as being “like a movie.”
But after a two-week break in the States, the 20-year-old center back is back in the grind in the very different environment of Necaxa of the second-division Ascenso MX, where he is on loan from las Águilas for the next year.
“[América] told me they wanted me to play and that maybe it would be more difficult there, but that here there’ll be more opportunities to play and get more experience,” Alvarado told MLSsoccer.com by phone earlier this week from Aguascalientes.
Alvarado has enjoyed an impeccable youth career with Club América since arriving in Mexico in January 2008, playing his part in winning two of the club's four consecutive Under-20 championships.
He also stepped up into the first team under coach Miguel Herrera over the last 12 months, debuting in the Liga MX against Toluca last February and starting six games in the Copa MX.
Training at América has given Alvarado plenty of experience facing top players, but he singles out marking Ecuadorian striker Christian Benítez day in, day out as something that helped to improve his all-around game.
“It always fell to me to mark him in training and I learned a lot about how to use your arms, how to stop him and more,” he explained.
With that kind of platform to build on, Alvarado is hoping for a period of growth with his new club and gaining first-team minutes for a potential future return to Club América, with added experience and savvy.
But the youngster knows that just because he is coming from one of Mexico’s biggest clubs doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed a first-team spot at Necaxa, itself a club with a long history.
“I’ll have to fight,” he admitted. “The standard is good in the Ascenso. When you arrive at a new team, you have to fight, like everywhere.”
Alongside him at Necaxa to perhaps impart advice is fellow American Sonny Guadarrama, who joined from Mérida last month and has already found the score sheet this preseason.
“He’s my countryman,” laughed Alvarado. “We speak a lot of English together, always. It’s good to keep speaking [English] and joking around in English is good, too.”
Alvarado is also keen to find his way into a US national team shirt after previously representing Mexico at the U-17 and U-18 levels.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.