Stoking Dreams, Mexican Pro Teams Poach Players Here
Many boys in
Juan Alonso's official title…
ALONSO: Visor de Club Tigres, sí…
is "scout" for the Tigres pro soccer team in
But he's not limiting himself to
On a suburban
On the field are dozens of kids hoping to be stolen. Antonio Paredes is one of them.
PAREDES: It's ‘cause I want to make it. You know, I really want my dreams to come true. I really want to play pro. So my dad told me, every time I play you've got to give it allâ€”your 100 percent, everything.
BRACAMONTES TRANSLATION: We watch them, and if a kid stands out, we ask what year he is, where he's from, if he's Mexican.
Carlos Bracamontes is dressed in a green warm-up suit that gives him away as a scout for the Mexican National team. Among others, he'd like to find some good “'96s” on this trip, 14-year-olds who can play on his country's youngest national team.
The kids don't even need to have been born in
As the kids play, Bracamontes and Alonso study team rosters and take notes. An impressive pass, a good defensive playâ€”these become little pencil marks next to a boy's name.
For 16-year-old Luis Medina, it's nerve-racking.
MEDINA: I'm like looking around, looking for them, seeing if they're looking for me. If they're like staring or something.
Earlier this summer Bracamontes says he picked up two kids in
But it??s hard for him to stop ooing and ahhing over Number 47. A very sturdy, very fast, andâ€”unfortunately for Bracamontesâ€”a very Polish-looking defender.
BRACAMONTES: Tiene muy buen físico, muy buena pinta, lástima que no sea mexicano.
Good physique, very promising. Too bad he's not Mexican! Bracamontes says. He's even a leftie!
ALONSO: Si no es mexicano, lo casamos!
BRACAMONTES: Sí, con una mexicana!
Maybe we can marry him to a Mexican, the scout from Tigres jokes.
Tigres has 15 kids from the States now living at the team's soccer academy in northern
American kids dream of playing pro sports too, but in soccer-crazed
Isaac Mendoza is 16. His family drove two hours from
Isaac's dad, Paulino Mendoza, practices with his two sons every day, sometimes twice a day. At one point, they got so good that he didn't know how to coach them anymore, so he ordered videos and books to learn. Today he's among a crowd of immigrant parents cheering their kids on from the stands.
But one family's dream come true could mean dashed hopes for another. As the Tigres scout watches
ALONSO TRANSLATION: Each team has 18 players. If one kid comes, another has to leave. We really only invite players we believe can compete for a spot on the team.
Alonso says he's especially careful with players living in the
Miguel Sanchez took that chance. Right after finishing high school in
SANCHEZ: Now I'm wearing one of the most famous jerseys down in
Sanchez plays on Cruz Azul's “B” team, earning a few thousand dollars a month. As he's talking, little kids come up to him in the bleachers and hold out Cruz Azul shirts for him to autograph.
You might wonder where the Americans are in this picture. Frank Klopas is the technical director for the Chicago Fire. He's not surprised international scouts are looking for kids in his backyard.
KLOPAS: When you look around the world, the price for players has skyrocketed. In the States, there are so many kids that are out playing soccer and we're so close to
The Fire has its own elite development team, starting at age 14. Klopas is confident he's already attracting the best kids in the area to play with the Fire. But Major League Soccer rules say the Fire can't recruit kids beyond a 75-mile radius. And once they hit 18â€”most go to the college system, which is what the
There are some college scouts watching the kids play today.
DEPAUL COACH: We like the guys in the yellow shoes.
They'll be trying to convince them that college soccer in the