CARSON, Calif. –LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Jose Villarreal helped the U.S. U-20’s qualify for the 2013 U-20 World Cup, but as he turns his focus to earning a spot in the first team, he addressed his experiences in Mexico.
However, as interesting were Villarreal’s thoughts on the Latino influence in head coach Tab Ramos’ squad. Nine players on the 20-man roster were Latino and seven of those players were in the starting XI during U-20’s 3-1 extra time loss to Mexico in the final.
When asked about the style of U-20’s play, the Galaxy Homegrown forward admitted that it brought back pleasant memories of playing in the Sunday league soccer in his hometown of Inglewood.
“Obviously, we have a lot of Hispanics in the team and the U.S. has a tradition of [having] a lot of white players so being able to have many Hispanic players playing on the field, it was something else,” said Villarreal. “Especially after growing up and playing in Sunday leagues with a bunch of Hispanics, it was like having that feeling again. We’re all very good players on the ball and technically, we’re very skilled so it was a lot of fun.”
The U.S. weren’t the only nation to take advantage of American-born Latinos like Villarreal as Mexican goalkeeper Richard Sanchez (from Mission Hills, Calif.) and Uvaldo Luna (Houston, TX) both featured for El Tri. As countries from across CONCACAF continue their recruiting process in the U.S., Villarreal expects this trend to continue, but he’s quick to admit that he is more than happy with the U.S.
“It’s just the way it is. Whoever takes the opportunity or get called up. If Mexico decided to call up some kid from around here then they’ll take the opportunity unless they’re a die hard U.S. fan,” said Villarreal. “If you get the chance, and you have the double nationality then you have to take it. But I’m happy where I am with the U.S. and I’m happy to represent my country.”