U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer Hugo Perez: Mexico ahead on dual nationals
Incoming Mexican football federation scout and former U.S. Soccer men's national team player Hugo Perez is confident that El Tri has the upper hand over the United States when it comes to recruiting dual nationals and believes there will be more switches in coming years.
U.S. National Soccer Hall of Famer Perez featured for the Stars and Stripes at the 1994 World Cup and worked for U.S. Soccer as a youth national team coach and technical advisor until he was released almost four years ago.
El Salvador-born Perez has recently taken up a position scouting youth talent in California, home to approximately 12.5 million people of Mexican descent, for the FMF.
"I think that [the FMF] is ahead of us for a lot of reasons," said Perez. "Culture is one of them. Also, [the FMF] has knowledgable people running the program ... I think they are very professional about this in every way, administratively or on the playing side. I was impressed with the presentation they gave me. It's very, very good."
Perez stressed that more players are likely to switch in coming years and that style of play will likely be an important factor in dual nationals deciding, admitting a frustration on a personal level at seeing the likes of Jonathan Gonzalez and Efrain Alvarez leave the U.S. national team set-up.
"When you have someone like [Gonzalez] you have to pay attention," said Perez. "But again, I don't know if the coach was thinking he didn't fit in his plan and that may happen. That's why I think with Mexico now coming in and looking at players that are born here, at least the families are going to have the advantage to choose and whatever style or whatever type of player that coaches like will dictate really which player goes where."
The former San Diego Sockers player said identifying with a player's family is key.
"I think it's one of the most important things because you have to know the culture, you have to know how to speak to them and the most important thing is the honesty," said Perez. "Honesty goes beyond anything and for me, living here a lot of years and knowing the Hispanic culture it's important that we have a good communication with the family, regardless of what decision they make ... I think Mexico has been able to do that, with some of the players that have been called into national team camps from this country."
Mexico head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino touched on the subject of dual nationals in a news conference on Tuesday, stating that he is confident LA Galaxy's Alvarez will remain a Mexico national team player.
Asked if there is a possibility or temptation to call dual national players such as Alvarez, Ulyses Llanez, Alex Mendez and Richard Ledezma into Mexico's squad for Nations League games against Bermuda and Panama in October and November in order to cap-tie them, Martino left the door open.
"With Efrain it's not required. I've spoken to Efrain periodically, he's convinced he wants to be a Mexican national team player and he'll be in the Under-17 pre-camp ahead of the World Cup in Brazil," said Martino ahead of Wednesday's friendly against Trinidad and Tobago in Toluca. "The rest we do follow and if any of them would like to be called up, we will analyze it. It's our responsibility."
The Mexican federation also held a camp in Ontario, Calif. between Sept. 26 and 30 made up of 18 dual nationals born in 2004 chosen from around the United States, with the team facing off against an Alianza de Futbol scouting program's all-star side, which Perez coached.
Perez also confirmed that the FMF is analyzing whether to hold more camps of the same nature in the United States in the future.
"After this camp they will sit down and analyze how often they will do them," said Perez. "This was a trial to see what can be done here. With the project that the Mexican federation has, they could be frequent."