GUADALAJARA, Mexico – With just nine months until Brazil 2014, Joe Corona is over the moon about the very real prospect of accomplishing his childhood dream of playing in a World Cup.
There’s just one problem: He's not even featuring for Club Tijuana right now.
The 23-year-old did well at this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup, but his absence affected his club minutes under new coach Jorge Almirón, who has yet to put him on the field in Liga MX play over the past month. That's not the sort of vote of confidence that will lead Jurgen Klinsmann to consider Corona for his 23-man roster next summer.
“I know he’s a new coach with different ideas,” Corona told MLSsoccer.com this past weekend about Almirón. “I’m just ready for whenever he gives me the opportunity to be able to make my mark and get the starting spot.”
Corona has talked to Almirón about where he feels most comfortable and said that he is adept playing out wide or as an attacking midfielder. With the national team, Corona normally features as a No. 10 in practice, but Klinsmann tends to play him on the wing in matches.
In training at Xolos, the likeable San Diego native is aiming to improve different areas of his game to catch Almirón’s eye, with one of them being putting the ball in the back of the net on a more regular basis.
“I strive to get better every day,” said Corona. “One of the things I want to do is score more goals.”
Despite not getting as much playing time as he would like, Corona remains positive, talking fondly of his already vast experience in competitions as diverse as the Gold Cup, Copa Libertadores, CONCACAF Champions League, World Cup qualifying and the Liga MX.
In just the last four months, Corona has played in countries as far afield as Brazil, Honduras, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mexico, El Salvador and, of course, his native United States.
“It’s what I dream for, what I play for, what I train for,” he stated. “I’m very happy. I’m just trying to keep my feet on the ground and keeping working so I can earn my spot to be able to go to the World Cup.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com.