Since the inception of the US Development Academy some critics contend US Soccer Youth scouts fail to appropriately evaluate those players outside that level.
While the USSDA has significantly elevated the overall quality of player the US produced there remains hole in our development net.
US Soccer has made giant strides over the last few years to plug those gaps and has done a much more thorough job in scouting players outside USSDA.
Enter Jose Alfaro.
Alfaro did not make waves during his brief stint with Chicago Magic PSG in USSDA, yet his talent sufficiently impressed scouts all over Mexico. Alfaro joined Morelia for the 2013-2014 helping his side become of the top four sides in Mexico’s highly competitive Sub 15 category. Alfaro started every game for Morelia that season scoring three times most playing as left wing or wing-back.
His excellent play while in Mexico did not go unnoticed by US Soccer scouts. Alfaro was promptly called in to the US youth set-up and quickly became a fixture for the talented 99 pool.
We spoke with Jose last week about his progress down in Mexico and future with the US Youth National Team.
OWTY :: When and where did you start playing soccer?
Jose Alfaro Jr (JA) :: I started playing soccer in a small town club my uncle coached at four years old. I grew up in Aurora, Illinois a suburb of Chicago.
OWTY :: You played briefly for Chicago Magic PSG, is that the club you grew up with?
JA :: I moved to Chicago Magic at the age of 12. I played there for only 1 & 1/2 seasons before moving down to Mexico.
OWTY :: You moved to Morelia in Mexico at a very young age. Do you recommend that move for other young Mexican-Americans?
JA :: I do because clubs here start forming kids and preparing them at such young ages. It’s good to come young so you can adapt to the environment to the style of play. The faster you adapt to being by yourself and growing up on your own the easier it will be.
OWTY :: You’ve been a vital part of the US U15 set-up. Describe your role within the 99 pool?
JA :: I’m really thankful because the team had been together for a year before I got my first call up. I managed to get a spot into the team’s pool & all my teammates made me feel like I had been there as long as then from my first camp. It’s hard to be put in a position you don’t usually play, I play on the left wing with Morelia, yet Coach Hugo played me as a left back. He really helped me understand the intricacies of that spot. At the moment I am still playing at that position for the 99s and enjoying myself.
OWTY :: We’ve interviewed other young US players in Mexico, but in your opinion describe the difference between USSDA and the Sub 15, Sub 17 levels in Mexico?
JA :: I think there’s a big difference between Development Academy and Sub17 & Sub20. The physicality, and speed of play are the biggest factors. There are also no easy games throughout the season. They’re all intense. Every kid is fighting for a chance to get to the first team, thus they fully dedicate themselves to their soccer.
OWTY :: Klinsmann has begun to set up US sides at every age level. Describe the goals of the 99 age group?
JA :: I think the main goal for the 99s is to produce players for the U17 world cup and to keep developing players for future US categories.
OWTY :: We’ve learned you can play nearly anywhere on the field, but what is your preferred position?
JA :: My preferred position(s) are left back with the US and left wing with Morelia.
OWTY :: What are your goals this season with Morelia? With the US Youth National Side?
JA :: My goals are to keep getting called up to national team win international tournaments. With Morelia my goal is to help qualify for playoffs in Mexico and be league champions.
OWTY :: What are some areas of your game that you hope to improve on?
JA :: There’s always something to learn. Making better quick decisions and individual defending winning all my 1v1s are two aspects I am really attempting to focus on at the moment.
OWTY :: Where do you see yourself in 1 year? 5 years?
JA :: In one year I can see myself practicing and making my debut with the first team at Morelia. In five years I would like to be playing in a top league in Europe.