GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The ongoing dilemma over the left back position on the US national team is nothing new. Indeed, it extends well before Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge.
Just in terms of players based in Mexico, Jonathan Bornstein, Edgar Castillo and DaMarcus Beasley have all had opportunities in recent years, with Beasley – a converted winger – holding the job at present.
Now, 22-year-old Greg Garza, fresh from receiving the start in Club Tijuana’s first game of the season against Atlas on Saturday, is another Mexico-based player who wants his name to be in the mix as the countdown to Brazil begins in earnest.
“[My goals for the season are] just to keep my starting spot, help the team as much as possible, hopefully get another championship and, who knows, maybe a call up to the national team,” Garza told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday’s game.
Garza and Xolos teammate Castillo are friends off the field and very respectful of each other’s ability on it, but both can’t be regular starters in that position for Tijuana. That obviously has repercussions for the Stars and Stripes.
Perhaps tellingly, Garza also mentioned he wasn’t surprised that he got the nod to start against Atlas under new Tijuana coach César Farías.
“I think that with the hard work that has been put in the past month, I deserved my spot and we’ll see how the season goes,” said Garza, a native Texan who has been part of the US setup from the Under-14 level on up to the U-23s.
It is a long season, and there will be no doubt twists and turns regarding Tijuana, the Liga MX and the US national team left back spot, but it is a storyline that promises to be fascinating.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.