For young defender Ventura Alvarado, getting the call as a regular starter at Liga MX powerhouse Club América was significant. Yet, it was the call he wasn’t expecting that was even bigger.
“I was surprised,” Alvarado said about the call he recently received from U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “I was about to go to Phoenix for a vacation and an assistant let me know that a call from the U.S. National Team might be coming Ten minutes later coach Klinsmann called me and I was just surprised!”
Phoenix was where it all started for Alvarado 22 years ago. Born to Mexican parents in the United States, the maturing center back is eligible to represent both the U.S. and Mexico on the international soccer stage. For the moment, he is a U.S. player, and his parents, who had initially thought Mexico might be the better place for him, have enjoyed seeing him in the U.S. jersey.
“My family was really excited when I got called up for the U.S. National Team,” he said. “They were happy when I started playing for Club América, and now they’re really happy. They sent me a picture of my nieces and they were holding a newspaper that said ‘Ventura Alvarado goes to the U.S. National Team,’ and they are all smiling. They’re just partying over there right now. They’re so happy, and just hearing them makes me really happy too.”
USMNT Defender Ventura Alvarado makes his international debut against Denmark in the rain of Aarhus.
While still one of the team’s newer players, Alvarado was glad to come in and see some familiar faces like Michael Orozco and Greg Garza, his opponents in Liga MX, who are now his U.S. teammates.
“Guys like Michael Orozco, he has more experience than me. He’s been here a lot of years, and Greg Garza, he has a lot of experience too and has been playing very well in Tijuana. Everything they say to me, it just gives me confidence,” Alvarado said. “It’s nice to have them because we have so much in common, players they know, clubs and coaches. They are my friends. It helps me out a lot.”
Flash forward to last week in Aarhus, Denamrk. Michael Orozco had to come out of the USA’s international friendly against the Danes with a knee injury, handing Alvarado his chance to get on the pitch.
“Earning my first cap, it was an incredible experience,” Alvarado said. “They said, ‘you’re going in,’ and I was just excited!”
Making his first appearance for the USA may be just the first step in Alvarado’s international career. The athletic defender hopes to work his way up to one day to play on soccer’s biggest stage, and so far he’s relishing the opportunity he’s been given with the U.S MNT.
“I hope to work and little by little start getting more minutes, getting more games,” he said. “Little by little, work my way towards being a starter and being known and getting the confidence up of the fans and the coaches and everybody. My ultimate goal is to go to the World Cup. It’s a dream for every player.”