PICENO MAKING STRIDES WITH XOLOS
The Tijuana Xoloizquintles, better known as the Xolos of Tijuana are very well known in the USA due to their high quantities of US internationals.
Recently, over the summer, Xolos acquired the services of striker Herculez Gomez, who joined fellow Americans Joe Corona, Edgar Castillo, Paul Arriola, Greg Garza, and Alejandro Guido.
Digging a little bit deeper, however, another American born Xolo, Bruno Piceno, who was born in Chula Vista, California, is also on the roster.
Piceno, who is working his way into the first team roster, was quick to downplay the significance of his American heritage.
"I've never lived in the USA," the 22 year old Piceno told Yanks Abroad. "I was born in Chula Vista, but since I was very young, my parents brought me over. I was raised in Tijuana, and became the soccer player and the person that I am today here in Tijuana."
Piceno started with Xolos as a youngster, barely 16 when he first laced up for the Mexican side which was founded in 2007. When he began his ambitions with Xolos, they were merely a recently formed second division club that had few prognosticating a promotion to the first division.
He made his professional debut with the club in the 2009/10 season when it was in the second division, the Liga Ascenso. He has remained with the club when it was promoted in 2011 and when it won the Liga Mx's 2012 Apertura. He made three appearances in Tijuana's Copa Libertadores quarterfinal run last season and has already played in two CONCACAF Champions League games this year.
The club has risen very quickly and Piceno has been there for nearly the entire ride.
"I started playing with Tijuana when I was 16," described the striker. "I've been with the club since 2008, and seen it's growth. It's all happening very fast, but it has been tremendous as for us as an organization, and me personally."
The success of Xolos is could be connected to the diversity of the team, with several players hailing from Mexico, the USA, and Argentina. It hasn't been a difficult task to unite the players. "It isn't important to us what flag is flying," explained Bruno. "We don't feel like an American team, a Mexican team, or an Argentine team. We're a family."
The striker isn't oblivious to his situation of dual nationality, and embraces it. Despite not having played in camps for either the USA or Mexico, he is willing to listen.
"It's something that every soccer player dreams about, that they would like to play for their country," said Piceno. I would listen to any country that opened their door for me. I don't have a preference. Having been born in the USA, I feel American, but I have always lived in Mexico so I also feel Mexican."
Xolos, a team that many have dubbed as the fan favorite for US citizens, may yet produce another American international. For now, however, Piceno is just enjoying the ride.
"I'm training hard, working hard like I'm supposed to, with the goal to be a bigger contributor to this team."