Andres Guardado could be the new face of expansion club Atlanta FC
First there was Erick “Cubo” Torres. Then it was Giovani dos Santos. Now, it appears that the next Mexican star to join Major League Soccer will be no other than star midfielder Andres Guardado.
The rumors surrounding the PSV Eindhoven player started a month ago, when ESPN’s John Sutcliffe and Sports Illustrated Grant Wahl reported that MLS expansion club Atlanta United was interested in signing him and/or fellow Mexico teammate Carlos Vela.
While nothing has developed on the Vela front, Guardado confirmed his interest in joining the North American League on Monday while speaking in a press conference.
More from Playing for 90
- Alexia Putellas reaches 400 games with Barcelona
- Everything you need to know ahead of the 250th ‘Super Clásico’
- Barcelona put five past Real Betis
- Manchester City suffer but come away with win over West Ham
- Baffling Liga MX ruling strips Puebla of a hard-earned victory
“You start to analyze the future and we know that a [soccer] career is short,” Guardado said. “I’m about to turn 30 in September and I can’t close the door on a league that’s growing.”
“I’m thankful for the interest. It’s flattering,” he added, making sure to point out that “nothing is done.”
Guardado, who was part of the Mexican squad that participated in Copa America Centenario in the United States last month, explained that he feels honored to be pursued by MLS because he considers that the league already has players who are “several steps above.” Such players include Andrea Pirlo, Didier Drogba and Kaká, among others.
Guardado’s signing could raise some eyebrows, however, especially after his poor participation in Copa America. The Mexican midfielder was part of the team that embarrassingly lost 7-0 against Chile in the tournaments quarterfinal round. For his efforts, he was named in ESPNFC’s Worst XI of the Copa America.
Still, a player of Guardado’s quality can’t be judged on a tournament alone and his track record suggests he would be a great signing for any MLS club. At the same time, MLS’ interest in signing Mexican players has been an obvious strategic move for reasons that go beyond the field.
No other national team draws as much attention in the United States as Mexico, fact proven once again during this year’s Copa America. Also, players like Giovani dos Santos have energized the MLS fan base in a different way. A dos Santos fan ran onto the field during last Monday’s game between the LA Galaxy and the Vancouver Whitecaps, an unusual sight in MLS stadiums.
Atlanta United, who is set to join MLS next season, could use a Mexican player’s popularity to raise its profile in what will be an interesting first season. In Guardado they’ll have a player who can pull the strings in midfield and also potentially fill a stadium.