FRISCO – Bucking their usual pattern of raising their own to play in Frisco, FC Dallas has sent one of their own across the border.
On Friday, the team transferred 18-year-old midfielder Alex Zendejas to Chivas Guadalajara after a little over two years with the first team. The El Paso, Texas was FCD's 13th Homegrown signing back in January 2014.
“They’ve for sure been scouting him for a long time,” head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSSoccer.com. “We brought Alex here many years ago, and he’s been part of the national team and [our] first team. At his young age, he’s proven already that he has a lot of talent.”
Zendejas made his first professional start a little over a year ago in Seattle during a 3-0 loss. He made eight total appearances last season, but never saw the field in 2016 due to nagging injuries. In total, he leaves FC Dallas with no shots, no assists, and 187 minutes played.
“You gotta feel good to be on the field,” teammate and fellow Homegrown product Victor Ulloa told MLSSoccer.com, referencing how the injuries slowed Zendejas down this season. “And now that he’s feeling good, I guess the timing is perfect for him.”
The timing actually caught Pareja off-guard, considering Zendejas’ struggle with health this season.
“It took me by surprise a little bit that the club in Mexico wanted him despite the time he was off,” Pareja said. “But that tells me even more how much they want him and how much value Alex has.”
And though Zendejas did not seen any time on the field for Dallas this season, the move nonetheless creates a open spot on the FCD roster and sees them lose a player many projected to be a big part of the team's long-term future. But FCD technical director Fernando Clavijo indicated that this move was not necessarily one that had been a long time in the making, even if Chivas' interest had been longstanding.
“It just came up,” he recalled. “We were talking about it for quite some time. It was something I went to the draft and Mexico. Chivas, I knew the coach before he took over. So there was already a lot of 'I like the kid, I like the player.'”
With Zendejas being a product of the FC Dallas academy, the move has made Pareja and company proud in multiple ways. The head coach said he is pleased his former youngster has a chance to get a fresh start in his career. But he, Clavijo and Ulloa also said they are proud of what the transfer says about the club’s developmental system.
“I think a young guy from Dallas sees, Alex Zendejas made it to a first division team in Mexico, as big a club as Chivas is. I think they’re going to be excited about that,” Ulloa said.
Said Clavijo: “When you look at the whole package, the biggest benefit is going to be for Alejandro Zendejas, because usually that transition takes another three years. But it jumps the development, of having to play for our first time for one or two years then moving him out. He just jumped straight from the academy, and I think that’s a really good message for all our kids.”