VANCOUVER, BC – Efrain Juarez's pro career spans more than 10 years and traverses two continents.
Juarez joined Whitecaps FC last week in a move from Liga MX side Monterrey. At 29 years old, he's still got a lot left in his tank, so what's brought Juarez to Major League Soccer at this stage of his career?
The answer is a simple one.
"I've been involved in lots of competitions in Europe, in Mexico, now for me it's a new challenge," Juarez told reporters at the first day of Vancouver’s preseason training camp on Monday. "I had a chat with [head coach] Carl [Robinson] and he explained what he needs from me. He explained to me about the club, about the city. It's a club with very high ambitions, so this challenge and everything interested me."
For a club that's lost a lot of veteran presence from their locker room this offseason, the addition of a player of Juarez's experience was the perfect addition for Robinson, both on and off the pitch.
"He pretty flexible," Robinson said of what Juarez will bring to the 'Caps. "He likes to get around the pitch and get on the ball. He's got a great pedigree and he's a leader. Character-wise, he's as good as you're going to find. He's very professional in everything he does."
A key selling point in tempting the Mexican to Vancouver was Robinson's desire to play Juarez in his favoured position in central midfield – as opposed to right back where he primarily played for Monterrey. The reality is, however, that it's a position in which Juarez is very comfortable in and has previously excelled.
"Yeah, it's one of the things [why] I came here," Juárez confirmed. "That's one of the positions that I enjoy really. I used to play right back, but in a lot of games too I played midfield. I went to Celtic as a midfielder. I played in the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 in midfield. It's not a position that I don't know. I really know. At the end, it's football. The ball is round, whether here, Mexico, or China."
So just what kind of midfielder will the 'Caps be getting with Juarez?
"I'm box-to-box," he said. "I have feet. I can run all day, all night. For me, being box-to-box will be so nice or wherever the manager needs me. I'm really excited and happy to be here. To put all my experience at the service of the team."
Juarez can't wait to get started in his new surroundings, having followed the progress of MLS for years thanks to former teammates coming to play in the league.
Now, he's excited to be part of it himself.
"Everyone is talking about what is so, so great with MLS," Juárez said. "It's growing a lot. The league, there's nothing I can say, it's really what you can see. I came here to try and put all my effort and try and do important things with this club.”