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Alejandro Guido is part of a new wave in Major League Soccer. Over the 2019 offseason, the 24-year-old was one of many American players — see Gedion Zelalem, Joe Corona, Kenny Saief, and Terrence Boyd — to make the move to the United States after making a mark elsewhere. For the midfielder, who signed for Los Angeles FC, it was in Liga MX with Tijuana where he got his start.
Now, though, Guido is in MLS and hopes to use his move to California to propel him into the U.S. men’s national team. The LAFC man spoke to LAFC on his 24th birthday about his soccer heroes, the rivalry with the LA Galaxy, and food offerings at Banc of California Stadium.
FloFC: How would you describe yourself as a player?
Alejandro Guido: I’m more of a tactical player, more of an offensive player. I like to play between the lines and look for that final pass or score a goal.
Flo: What was it about Los Angeles FC that appealed to you?
AG: I was coming up for seven years with Club Tijuana and I wanted a fresh start, and my agent told me there was an opportunity for me to go on trial with LAFC. I didn’t hesitate, because there’s a great coaching staff and a great organization and great players, so I thought it was a great fit especially with the way they like to play soccer.
Flo: Do you think moving to LAFC will help you nail down a place in the U.S. men’s national team roster?
AG: I think so, because LAFC is a big market club and it has a lot of the spotlight. Plus the coach (Gregg Berhalter) comes from MLS and I think he has his eyes more on MLS than Liga MX, even though I bet he also watches Liga MX. I think it does help, though, yes, and that was part of my thinking. My international career is important to me. I mean, who doesn’t want to represent their country? To go a World Cup is one of my dreams.
Flo: Why are so many young Americans who started their careers abroad now moving to MLS?
AG: It is definitely a trend, and I think the level has increased dramatically in MLS. I think with the increase of the TAM (Targeted Allocation Money), that has also improved the likelihood of people coming in and making the rosters better. That was a big thing for me and that’s only going to help the league get better and better.
Flo: For generations, American players have been encouraged to look abroad at as early an age as possible. Is that changing?
AG: Yes. I think you can look at the cases of the players who have been exported to Europe [from MLS], young players, Americans and South Americans. You can see it’s a good stepping stone to go into those bigger leagues. I think it has changed. The point I was making with the TAM increase is that this has improved the players in the middle of the roster and this has also improved the level of play in MLS, whereas before there was a big gap there.
Flo: What are the main differences between MLS and Liga MX?
AG: I still believe that rosters in Liga MX are more complete. That’s basically the difference right now. It’s getting closer, I can feel it, the level is high in MLS, but the 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st player on the team is just better. Hopefully MLS continues to improve in the monetary aspect.
Flo: What are your personal aims for this season and beyond?
AG: Well, I want to establish myself in the starting XI, first of all. And then with the team I want to make the playoffs and then win it. I think we have a team with the capacity to win it. This is a big club with big aspirations and I think we should be looking to win the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.
Flo: There’s a picture on your Instagram of Johan Cruyff and another on your Twitter of Juan Roman Riquelme. If you had to compare yourself to a soccer legend, who would it be?
AG: I really love [Andres] Iniesta and Xavi [Hernandez]; they were obviously the models for every midfield player. Right now I currently like Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva. Especially players who play in a 4-3-3, 4-1-4-1 formation… I like those players. It’s the reading of the game [that is most impressive to me]: knowing where to be, knowing when to make that run, knowing when to maybe not even run, to stay in their place and be patient for that ball to come so they can make that impact.
Flo: Bob Bradley told Carlos Vela in a documentary about LAFC that he should aim to be Lionel Messi. Who has he told you to be like?
AG: He tells the midfielders that we should try to emulate Iniesta, Xavi, look at their movements, look at how they do it. So it’s that Barcelona team that he really loves.
Flo: Why should I choose to support LAFC over the LA Galaxy?
AG: Oh man, just look at The 3252. You’re never going to see something like that over there, seriously. You’re having to have a great time [at Banc of California Stadium]. You’re not even going to be sitting down, you’re going to be jumping every single game and then you’re going to watch some artistic, beautiful, creative soccer.
Flo: Here are some of the food items on sale at Banc of California Stadium for LAFC home games: grilled cheese and maple syrup, Seoul fried chicken and waffle fries, brisket nachos, deep-fried Pop Tarts. Pick one…
AG: I’m going with the brisket nachos, man. I think all of them sound really good. I was kinda debating the Seoul fried chicken, but I’m a nacho guy. I’m Latino.
Flo: Finally, happy birthday! What kind of birthday cake did you get?
AG: I haven’t gotten my cake yet… I’m still waiting on it! Hopefully I will get it tonight! So I like tres leches, but as long as I get a cake, I won’t be disappointed.
Graham Ruthven is a soccer writer based in the U.K. He has written for the New York Times, Guardian, Eurosport, Bleacher Report, and others.