Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
BY ADAM SERRANO
Marco Vidal's journey has been like that of many Mexican-American youth pursuing the dream of playing professional soccer. It is a journey that leads players to criss-cross the USA-Mexico border searching for the best options to play top-flight soccer.
The Dallas native enters the 2010 Apertura season with perhaps the best chance to showcase his talents. After his former club Indios was relegated to the Liga Ascenso, the 24-year-old defensive midfielder was selected by Pachuca in the relegation dispersal draft in a move he hopes will pay dividends for his career.
"It's a huge opportunity and I'm very grateful for all that Indios have given me over the past several years," said Vidal. "Coming to an institution like Pachuca, who play in a number of great tournaments and I'm going to need to take advantage of it."
Prior to joining the Tuzos, the 24-year-old spent three seasons with the Indios de Ciudad Juarez. Vidal joined Indios in 2007 after a spell at two other Mexican clubs at a youth level. The Dallas native began his career with the Ciudad Juarez club on the American side of the border, winning the USASA (United States Adult Soccer Association) National Cup with Indios youth team, Indios USA. After leading the club to a youth championship, Vidal was given his chance to feature across the border for Indios.
As Vidal made his 46 appearances for the senior club, Juarez descended into chaos, ravaged by a drug war that according to Mexican Attorney General has claimed 24,800 lives. During Vidal's time with the Indios, he became all too familiar with the dangers of living in Ciudad Juarez.
"It started off calm, but six months after I got there, it started to get pretty ugly and I would have to watch out for myself and I wouldn't be able to go out at night so I would be in my house as soon as the sun set just to be safe," said Vidal. "At a moment, I got carjacked at gunpoint while I was at a red light and after that I just had to take even more precaution."
As he transitions from life in Ciudad Juarez to his future with Pachuca, the hard-nosed defensive midfielder has quickly won over his teammate with his diligence on the training ground. The midfielder earned his first start since joining Pachuca in last night's SuperLiga loss to Chivas USA.
The midfielder's transition to Pachuca has been less steep due to the presence of fellow Americans Herculez Gomez and Jose Torres. Having the two high-profile American players on the club has proved extremely valuable to Vidal's development and Gomez was quick to compare Vidal's abilities in the midfield to Torres.
"Like Jose, he brings a calmness to the game, if you look back at our send-off series against Turkey, Paco came on and settled us down from the defensive midfield spot and I think that Marco brings the same kind of qualities," said Gomez. "His experience in playing with Indios and what they've gone through has definitely seasoned him as a player and that will definitely help our squad."
Much like Torres and other Latinos in America, Vidal has had to straddle the two cultures as he dreams of a national team call-up. Eligible for both the United States and Mexico, the Dallas native remains coy on his preferences, but is focused on his goals with the Tuzos.
"Right now my goal is to start with this team and it would be great to be called up to the national team because that's what every soccer player wants," said Vidal. "I'm open minded right now and if the United States call me first then that's where I'll go."