GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Goalkeeper Austin Guerrero has joined fellow Americans Victor Garza and Jonathan Bornstein in Tigres UANL's first-team preseason training camp in Cancún.
The 23-year-old from Chula Vista, Calif., is currently fourth-choice 'keeper at the club, partly because he only moved down south to Monterrey this past January, but is keen to make his way up the roster to, eventually, the No. 1 shirt.
“I'd like to garner a starting spot here because I love the club, I love the city and I love everything about it,” Guerrero told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Wednesday.
He knows that will not be easy, with competition for places extremely steep and the club producing a conveyor belt of new talent from its youth system. For now, Guerrero is content biding his time and learning from those ahead of him in the pecking order.
The technical and speedy 'keeper had interest from MLS after graduating from the University of Portland, but opted for Mexico partly because he felt his athletic style and shorter stature (he's listed at 5-foot-11) fits the game down south a little more.
The former US Under-20 also has an extra incentive that is driving him to make the first team.
“I think I'd be the first American goalkeeper here in Mexico, so that would be cool,” said Guerrero. “But I just want to play. I'm a 23-year-old guy who just wants to play and that's my goal.”
The focused American has an uphill struggle in arguably Mexico's best squad, but he is at least keeping his head down and making sure no distractions get in his way.
“My lifestyle here is really concentrated,” Guerrero said. "I go to training, I work hard, I stay after and, by the time I get home, I don't want to do anything else but eat and sleep."
Unlike the vast majority of Americans playing in Mexico, who have at least one parent from that country, Guerrero's grandmother is his link to Mexican citizenship and he grew up speaking only basic Spanish.
“To this day, I'm still really learning it and thankfully my teammates help me out left and right,” he said, adding that having Bornstein and other Americans around at the club have been a big help.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.