GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Ventura Alvarado left Phoenix, Ariz., as a 15-year-old boy in search of making a career with Club América in Mexico City. He returned for vacation on Tuesday with a Liga MX Apertura 2014 winners medal wrapped around his neck, as well as his piece of Las Aguilas history as one of the players who earned title number 12 to take them past historic rivals Chivas de Guadalajara.
“[My parents] didn’t want to let me go,” said Alvarado, reflecting on the move seven years ago during a phone interview from the Mexico City airport with MLSsoccer.com. “It was a big thing. I made the decision to come, and they are really happy right now.”
Having worked his way up the storied club’s youth system, Alvarado started both legs of the Liga MX final in América’s 3-1 aggregate victory and is still finding it difficult to take everything in that has happened over the last month.
The 22-year-old’s first Liga MX start came on Nov. 22 against Atlas in a largely meaningless final match of the regular season for América.
Then Alvarado was suddenly thrust into a starting role for the semifinal of the playoffs against Monterrey, following the decision by Club América coach Antonio Mohamed to remove Mexico international Paul Aguilar from the squad. Four starts later and Alvarado became the first player from the United States to win a championship with Las Aguilas.
“This was a little different because it’s my first championship with América and with everything that happened … starting my first games,” said Alvarado. “I had all kind of emotions in me and I still do.”
The right back dedicates the title to his family and himself – “I’ve been working hard for this and it has paid off” – but admits he wasn’t happy with his performance in the first leg of the final, which Tigres won 1-0.
“I didn’t have a great game in the first leg,” said Alvarado. “The entire team felt we didn’t have a good game. Tigres had Damián [Alvarez] and our formation … we didn’t mark, we were messy.”
That changed in the 3-0 victory last Sunday in front of a full house at the 100,000-capacity Estadio Azteca.
“We were organized and motivated and we came out and I felt we ate them,” he said.
Alvarado returns to Phoenix with his father and cousin, who both flew down to Mexico City for the final, but after what is likely to be a brief rest – the Liga MX Clausura 2015 starts on Jan. 9 – he’s raring to go again and has already set his goals for 2015.
“I’m going to take this time to be with my family and enjoy Christmas, and when I come back I’m going to start working even harder to get a place in the starting team and then the national team would be good too,” he said.
As the dual Mexico and United States citizen has previously stated and reiterated, the door is open to either country.