SAN ANTONIO – As it has so frequently in recent years, the US national team will suit up a number of of Liga MX-based dual nationals – four, to be exact – when it takes on Mexico in Wednesday’s friendly at the Alamodome.
In that sense, William Yarbrough is not alone – except that his journey to this point started on the other side of the border, much the opposite of his Mexican-American compatriots. The Club Leon goalkeeper was born in Mexico to American parents, who moved there as missionaries, whereas the three other Mexico-based players on the US roster were born in the States to Mexican parents.
“Living in Mexico, every time there is a game against the US, you can tell right away how important it is,” Yarbrough said of the dynamic of being a dual citizen who chose to play for his parents' birth nation, rather than the one he grew up in. “It is talked about pretty intensely down there because of the rivalry that exists.”
Yarbrough has played his entire career in Mexico, first with Pachuca followed by loan spells at Tampico Madero and Titanes Tulancingo before finding a home at Club Leon in 2013 after a loan there in 2012. Yarbrough also played for the Mexico U-20 team at the in 2007, at age 18, before facing the dilemma so many dual-nationals face: a one-time decision on their international allegiance.
He ultimately chose the US, and received his first action in goal for the Stars and Stripes on March 31 against Switzerland, coming in as a sub for Nick Rimando in the 46th minute.
“William was calm and balanced,” USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said of Yarbrough’s half of action against Switzerland. “He got his work done. That is what we hope to see.”
Yarbrough has also gotten his work done in goal for Leon since he ended up there. He's made 62 appearances for La Fiera and was a part of their team that captured back-to-back titles in the 2013 Apertura and 2014 Clausura tournaments.
Now, his journey will take him to San Antonio, where he has a chance to jump headfirst into one of soccer's fiercest rivalries, and possibly face many of the players he grew up playing with in the only country he has ever known as home.