USMNT, Club America defender Ventura Alvarado excited to jump into emotional US-Mexico rivalry

SAN ANTONIO -- A member of defending Liga MX champions Club America, Ventura Alvarado has been involved in tough matches before. But he has never taken on the Mexican national team.

He will get that chance in San Antonio on Wednesday night when Alvarado's US national team side squares off against their southern neighbors at the Alamodome (8:30 pm ET, FS1). And while he won't get the chance to square off against his club teammate Oribe Peralta, who pulled out of the squad due to injury, bragging rights are still on the line.

“Emotionally it is going to be a real test,” Alvarado said on his first day in San Antonio for the friendly. “I am really happy. I have been talking about it with my mates [on Club America]. I told Oribe I’m going to beat him but he didn’t come.”

Alvarado was born in Phoenix to Mexican-American parents and came through the Club America youth ranks. He had the choice of putting on the red, white and blue of the US or the green and white of Mexico. He chose to represent the United States and made his national team debut last month in the loss against Denmark.

And his national team coach is pleased with the defender's play to date.

“Ventura stepped in on the field like he was always with us,” USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said of the 22-year-old’s debut against Denmark.  “He came in and was sharp, he did his job.”

Alvarado has also been sharp with his club team, as he has won the Liga MX Clausura in 2013 and the Apertura in 2014 at America, one of the powerhouses of Mexican soccer. Now he will set his sights on helping the country of his birth get a win in a friendly over the country of his parents’ birth, where he plays for the most successful domestic team.

“It’s always a big rivalry against us,” Alvarado said of the game between the United States and Mexico national teams.  “They are always talking about it [in Mexico].  They want to beat us.”

Alvarado won’t be alone when he takes the field on Wednesday. His parents will be making the trip from Phoenix to cheer him on.  They will be one of many in the sold out crowd of 65,000 who will have hearts divided between Mexico and the United States.