Chipotle Homegrown Game takes on special significance for MVP Luis Marquez

SAN JOSE, Calif. – It was very obvious that Wednesday’s Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game meant a lot to Mexico U-20 squad midfielder Luis Marquez.

Moments after scoring the first of his two goals against the MLS Homegrown team, Marquez took the opportunity to channel his inner Cam Newton by “dabbing” to the Avaya Stadium crowd. The celebration isn’t typical of an exhibition like Wednesday’s, but it wasn’t just another game for the Mexican international, who last appeared for El Tri last year at the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

“It’s been a difficult time for me,” Marquez told media after the match, explaining his enthusiastic celebrations. “It’s a great feeling because it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the national team and coming back with two goals is very satisfying for me. But Mexico vs. USA is a rivalry and so you celebrate with everything you’ve got.

“It’s a great feeling to beat the United States on its own soil.”

But there’s more to this story than the USA-Mexico rivalry.

Marquez, who won the Homegrown MVP award, is a Chivas Guadalajara academy product and has played for the club since he was nine years old. He’s also the second cousin of Mexican national team legend Rafa Marquez, but he says he has “pretty much had no contact with him, and he’s not even been an encouragement for me. It’s a personal motivation to be better than him.”

But what’s really eating at him is that at the age of 21, Marquez still hasn’t debuted for the Chivas Guadalajara senior team after all these years in the organization. It’s why Wednesday’s goals in San Jose meant so much.

“For me, this affects me a lot,” he said. “That’s the only thing. It’s my most recent problem.

“I always have my mind in Chivas, first and foremost, and then Chivas will decide if I debut. I’ll always give my best effort and I’ll push my team forward, even if it’s in the second division. And god will do the rest.”

Marquez was one of a handful of overage players on Wednesday’s Mexican U-20 national team and the call to join the team came out of the blue. He says he received a WhatsApp group message saying that El Tri would be assembling a team to play the MLS Homegrowns. But he didn’t believe it until Chivas officials confirmed it.

And it proved an opportunity to be relished.

“You can’t give up. You’ve got to give extra effort,” he said. “Everyone can be down at some point, but from there you can either give more or you collapse. If you want to collapse, everything’s over. But if you can get out of it, you can give more.”

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