Millions of Mexican immigrants have crossed the border in the search of the so-called "American Dream." But there are those whose dreams take them back in the opposite direction.
Mexican national team goalkeeper Moises Muñoz wasn’t even 10 years old when his family decided to move to the United States. The plan was to be in the Bay Area for just a short period of time, but he ended up staying there for almost half a decade.
Muñoz, now a 34-year-old who today plays for Mexican champions Club América, could have been there a lot longer if not for a call that changed his destiny. When the family found out that his grandfather, who was living in Mexico, was given only a few months to live, it was an easy decision to head back to Michoacán. That day the NBA and NFL also lost a potential star.
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During his years in the US, Muñoz played soccer, but he did not see it as his potential career. He just played for fun. He watched plenty more football and basketball.
"I enjoyed soccer, that was it," he said. “Back then when I was thinking what I was going to do in my life, it was playing football or basketball in the United States. The conviction to play professionally came later on when I was back in Mexico."
That conviction led Muñoz to a 16-year career as a professional in one of the top leagues in this hemisphere. And now he's on the doorstep of making Mexico's 2014 World Cup team. But although he has spent most of his life in Mexico, he still goes back to the Bay Area to visit the family and friends who live there. And he sees a day when he might return there, perhaps even to play in MLS.
“Yes, why not?" he said. "Right now I’m happy at Club América, and I intend to play for a long time there, but I don’t rule out playing in MLS."
For now the focus for Muñoz is convincing Mexican national team head coach Miguel Herrera that he deserves to be one of the three goalkeepers taken to the World Cup in Brazil. It would be redemption after Muñoz was cut by 2006 El Tri boss Ricardo Lavolpe, despite being a regular at the time.
He seemingly became a national team afterthought ever since until last year's magical season with Club América, when he scored a stoppage-time goal in the championship final and saved a penalty kick in a heroic performance. Now he's in the mix again, playing for his former coach at Club América. But Wednesday's stellar performance by Guillermo "Memo" Ochoa in a 0-0 draw vs. Nigeria may have thrown the goalkeeper pecking order out of whack again in what is arguably the most uncertain position in the starting lineup.
“I’m happy to even be considered as one of the goalkeepers for the World Cup," Muñoz said. "Hopefully I’ll be on the final list. In a way, it will be a reward for all that I have done in my career.”
This article was originally published in Spanish on FutbolMLS.com as "Moisés Muñoz rememora su niñez en Estados Unidos, le gustaría jugar en la MLS".