There is a Mexican soccer player who is on the heels of Kylian Mbappe: Uriel Antuna. The 23-year-old midfielder of Chivas Guadalajara brushed aside the record of the Welsh world champion this November 25 during the quarterfinals of the Liga MX, where his club beat America, its fierce rival, 1 to 0.
To talk about Kylian Mbappe, the forward of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), is to talk about speed on the court. According to ESPN, the jewel of French soccer boasts a record of 36 kilometers per hour, making him the fastest player on the planet.
According to data from the Technological Innovation Center (CITEC) of the MX League, Uriel Antuna "El Brujo" covered during the National Classic 8,931 meters with a maximum speed of 35.7 kilometers per hour. The data was obtained thanks to the GPS vests that measure the performance of the players.
In this way, Uriel Antuna reported a maximum speed that puts him above Mohamed Salah, star of Liverpool in the English Premier League, with a record of 35 kilometers per hour; as well as the Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, current player of Juventus in Italy's Serie A, with a record of 34.62.
Uriel Antuna forged in the core forces of Santos Laguna has a contract with Chivas until 2023, but his departure could be accelerated if he maintains the level exhibited so far since he is followed by MLS and European teams due to his physical deployment and the ease he has to create danger in the attack.
The player has already had a step in the "old continent" football, since he played from 2017 to 2019 with the Groningen club of the Eredivisie of Holland, on loan from Manchester City, who signed him when he was a minor. Uriel Antuna is currently valued at four million euros, according to the specialized website Transfermarket.
In the Mexican National Team, Uriel Antuna is the second-best scorer of the era of Argentinean strategist Gerardo Martino, only below the Wolverhampton striker of the Premier League, Raúl Jiménez, and is an undisputed starter with Víctor Manuel Vucetich in Guadalajara.
Who is Uriel Antuna?
Uriel's career is quite short at the moment, but he has had enough moments to determine the way he performs on the football field. The native of Los Guerreros plays as a midfielder on the right side and likes to get to the baseline to send centers into the area.
He has good dribbling and the facility to go to the center of the field pulling marks, causing the strikers to have very good options in front of the rival goal. What is striking is the precision he has to give good services, a problem that has cost the Tricolor work in recent times.
On top of that, he likes the one-on-one approach and has a lot of ability to unbalance. The change of pace is also one of his virtues, which the technical director of the Galaxy, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, was able to exploit last season.
Already within the scheme of the Tata Martino in the national team, the native of Gomez Palacio, Durango, appears as one of the natural substitutes for the absent Tecatito Corona. Although he is not ambidextrous like Jesús, Antuna takes advantage of his speed as an extreme, either because of his natural profile, the right-handed one, or on foot changed like the man from Porto. Both, in that sense, are tactically versatile.
Uriel Antuna, the star of the neighborhood
On a piece of land measuring 30 by 50 meters, at the age of 11 and living in a city hit by violence, Uriel Antuna Romero took his first steps in soccer.
In 2009 he arrived at the Charly Soccer training center, a school installed in the courtyard of the house of Carlos Alberto Escandón, who since 2008 together with his family has been helping poor children from the ranches and nearby neighborhoods, where Uriel was recognized since childhood for his talent as the star of the "llanero" teams.
"We have a patio, a corral as they call it here at the ranch, it is the patio of the house; we cleaned it up and started (the school) on May 28, 2008. We just turned 11 years old," Carlos Alberto said in a telephone interview with Mediotiempo.
"Uriel integrates with us, his brother and his friends were in the training center and he came to ask for an opportunity. He was the star of the neighborhood, he was small, he was 10 or 11 years old".
The discoverer of El Brujo, as the 23-year-old footballer who arrived in Chivas on November 27 is nicknamed, said that his idea was to recruit Kevin, Uriel's younger brother, whom he saw kicking a pot on a field. Uriel was not his objective, as he saw it more complicated to take him, since he was a "famous" goal scorer.
"There was an uncle with him (Kevin), in some fields called Mexico 98 and I told the uncle that I wanted to talk to his parents to invite him to the training center. The uncle took me to his mother and father, and his mother told me that everyone loved Uriel, who was the neighborhood goal scorer, but I told her no, that I was going to get Kevin, who is about four years younger," he said.
Both began training with Carlos Alberto, who since 2008 has been dividing his days between his work as a public accountant and his nights as a coach for children growing up in a region with high rates of poverty and insecurity, problems to which Uriel and his family were not oblivious.
"Wherever there are vices, drugs, and Uriel lived in a very heavy, very difficult neighborhood, and he still got by. Barrio Las Flores is on the edge of Lerdo," he said. "Here we live up to date because of the insecurity, and it is something that Uriel got used to, he lives at the moment, he enjoys, he has a very good mentality".
After two years of work, the training school was invited to play the 2011 Santos Cup. That was the preamble for Uriel to arrive at the Torreon's Basic Forces, where he stood out and was bought by the City Football Group, owner of Manchester City, which closed its sale to Guadalajara for an amount that would be around 11 million dollars.
And in spite of the growth and fame that Uriel has had, more with the three goals that he scored in his debut in the 2019 Gold Cup, Carlos Alberto commented that every time he visits Lerdo he doesn't forget to go to Charly Soccer and play with the children that now see him as a figure.
"Even though he is already a professional, he plays for the National Team, he still goes to train there with us. He starts playing with the children, he is just another child," he said.
From Machester to Galaxy
Uriel Antuna came out of the Santos Laguna quarry. He made his debut in the Liga MX and was sold to City Football Group in 2017. Months after his arrival to Manchester City, in England, he signed for four years with the institution. The English team decided to send him to Groningen, of the Eredivisie of Holland, a team where he had little activity and which caused him several frustrations.
I was very surprised because I talked to the coaches, with the assistants and they told me that I was doing well, that I was working hard, extra hard and at the time of the games I was going with the youth team or I had 5 minutes if I was going or nothing, he said in an interview for Mediotiempo.
During his stay in the Netherlands, he was called up for the first time to the Mexican National Team, under the command of Juan Carlos Osorio, although he did not play a single minute either. But life had another surprise in store for him, as the English team that owned his letter gave him on loan to Zlatan's Galaxy Ibrahimović and Jonathan dos Santos.
And although it has been only a few months since his arrival to the team of Guillermo Barros Schelotto, in MLS, he has already participated in 16 games, scored two 2 goals, and got 1 assist.
Plays for Liga MX club Guadalajara
Uriel Antuna won the hearts of many Mexicans after scoring three goals against Cuba during the recent Gold Cup. Uriel Antuna's merit was not only in the hat-trick to the island's team (team number 175 in the latest FIFA ranking) but in three more marks he registered in his debut.
The 23-year-old midfielder scored the fastest goal in an official tournament of the Mexican National Team (117 seconds), and third in the history of this tournament: the current records are held by Walter Martínez of Honduras (69 seconds), and Walter Centeno of Costa Rica (116 seconds). He is the youngest player to score a double. In 2011, Giovani Dos Santos did the same against Cuba, but he was 22 years old.
He also made the national team's roster with three or more goals in the Gold Cup, a mark he shares with Javier Hernández, who was absent from the competition because of the birth of his son. The truth is that he was not included in the list of the 23 called up by 'El Tata' Martino, technical director of the Mexican National Team.
Ironically, the left winger was called up only 24 hours before the match against Cuba, a match that gave him his debut -and glory-. One of the goals he celebrated that night was with the ball inside the national shirt, in homage to the baby he is expecting with his partner.
Uriel Antuna believes that Chivas "has the team to be the champion" of Guard1anes 2020
Chivas seeks to access the Liguilla del Guard1anes 2020 for the first time in three years. But, to do so, it will have to leave Necaxa behind this Saturday in Akron State in what will undoubtedly be one of the most important matches in recent years for the Sacred Flock at the local level.
In this sense, Uriel Antuna, one of the referents of the team tactically commanded by Victor Manuel Vucetich, does not doubt. In a dialogue with the TUDN, when asked if it is an exaggeration to believe that Chivas can be champion in the tournament, he said "no", since "the team has what it takes" to fight to the bitter end.
Uriel Antuna's main statements
About the team and the possibilities of winning: "The players who arrived are very important, the ones who were already there, we have become more and more connected. Even though it was canceled, in the last tournament we were going from less to more, and this tournament was the same. We are going to fight, to become champions, which is the main objective. We have what it takes. We are going to do everything possible, we are the first ones who want to win, to be in the Quarterfinals and do everything possible to get the result".
Regarding the importance of Victor Manuel Vucetich in this team: "The experience he has is a lot, I do not know if it is an advantage, but what he brings to us is a lot of confidence, he helps us a lot and I think yes, little benefits us.
Analyzing the injuries of Alexis Vega and Jose Juan Macias: "We know the importance of Alexis, Macias, everyone, at the end of the day we are a team, we are very united and good, we must get this result for them, who also made a great effort during the season and would help us a lot and good, we must also do it for them to feel together with the team.