Fernando Arce is a name already very familiar to many U.S. and Mexican National Team fans, but from now on the name might bear a friendlier connotation.
Tijuana Xolos U20 midfielder Fernando Arce, Jr., was one of the break-out players last season for the Baja California side. Arce, a ’96, spent the year playing up two years with fellow Americans Raul Rodriguez (’94), Alejandro Guido (’94) and Stevie Rodriguez (’94), and despite the age difference was more than capable of holding his own at that level.
We spoke (in broken Spanish) with Fernando, Jr., earlier this week:
OWTY :: Where were you born? Are you eligible to play in the U.S.?
Fernando Arce, Jr. :: I was born in Chula Vista, California in 1996, so, yes, I am eligible to play for the United States.
OWTY :: Where and when did you start playing football?
FA Jr :: I started to play soccer here in Tijuana when I was little. I followed my father around as well.
OWTY :: Who are some players you try to emulate?
FA Jr. :: I try to imitate my dad [Mexican International Fernando Arce]. He is a great professional and I would love to get to his level.
OWTY :: You’ve spent your whole career in Mexico, what teams have you played with? What has the Mexican soccer league taught you?
FA Jr. :: I have played with Santos Laguna Sub 15, Monarcas Morelia 4rta division team, and now Tijuana Xolos Sub 17 and Sub 20. Mexican football taught me the importance of holding the ball and the proper techniques to control the ball. I’ve also learned to value possession.
OWTY :: Describe your development South of the Border.
FA Jr. :: I have had very good coaches and trainers that have improved my performance and they have formed who I am today. I think I have developed into a professional player.
OWTY :: What is your favorite position?
FA Jr. :: I enjoy playing as a central midfielder, either as a defensive or attacking mid.
OWTY :: You were a stand-out for the Tijuana U20 team last season, playing up two years. What are your goals for this year? Are you still playing for the U20s or hoping to make the first team ?
FA Jr. :: My goal this year is to win the U20 Championship with Xolos and then debut in the first team.
OWTY :: What are some of the aspects of your game that you feel you need to improve?
FA Jr. :: I need to get faster and improve my long passes. I also need to work on my left foot and technique.
OWTY :: Has U.S. Soccer ever contacted you to play for the U.S.?
FA Jr. :: Yes, they have contacted me once.
OWTY :: Would you be interested in playing for the U.S. ?
FA Jr. :: YES. Yes, I would play for the U.S. team.
OWTY :: Does playing with Alejandro Guido, Stevie Rodriguez, Raul Rodriguez, Paul Arriola, Greg Garza, Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona and Herc Gomez tempt you to play for the U.S.? Do they talk to you about it?
FA Jr. :: Yes, there are many Americans playing in Tijuana right now and we all get along well. Paul was the one who told me that I should play for the U.S. team. I talked to him about what I need to do to get into the squad and he told me to just remain focused and work hard.
OWTY :: Have you ever been invited to play for Mexican Youth National Teams?
FA Jr. :: No, I have never been called in by the Mexican Youth Teams.
OWTY :: Your father is a Mexican international, what does he think about your prospects of playing for the USA?
FA Jr. :: We’ve talked about it a lot and he said it’s my decision. And I told him I want to go play with the U.S. team if possible.
OWTY :: Where do you see yourself in one year? Five years from now?
FA Jr. :: In five years, I hope to be playing over in Europe.