Forward Madison FC announced the signing of 27-year-old veteran Mexican futbol player Christian “Pato” Díaz to their inaugural season roster at Blue Agave Mexican Restaurant Sunday.
Díaz was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, but spent much of his youth in California and found excitement at the prospect of returning to the United States to play soccer. The announcement was covered by both La Movida Spanish Radio Station and Voz Latina Newspaper.
“Quite an exciting day. Despite the snowfall outside, we’ve actually begun playing soccer. Training started this weekend. The players all arrived in town late last week and now the real work can begin,” Managing Director Peter Wilt said.
Wilt said the support from fan groups such as The Flock and La Barra 608 has been unbelievable. Head Coach Daryl Shore said the signing of shows Forward Madison’s commitment to bringing in players that fans can relate to, especially to those who follow Mexican soccer.
In Mexico, Díaz played in Liga MX, the top flight of Mexican soccer, for both Guadalajara-based FC Atlas and Leones Negros (Black Lions).
Families flocked into Blue Agave to greet the mystery player but received another surprise as well.
“Later this week, we’re going to have a major announcement of an international exhibition game. Forward Madison FC will be hosting a League MX first division team this summer,” Wilt said.
Wilt said the name of the club and date of the exhibition will be announced later this week but fans celebrated Díaz bringing his Liga MX experience to the USL League One. The addition of Díaz to the Forward Madison FC roster was made possible due to the club’s affiliation with MSL team Minnesota United FC.
Shore said the staff received an interesting phone call from Minnesota United midfielder Miguel Ibarra recommending Díaz. Ibarra also played in Liga MX for Club León.
“I have a very high esteem for Miguel. Obviously, he’s a quality player. He’s played for MLS. He’s played for League MX as well as our U.S. national team so I just said to Miguel, give me your friend’s name. Let me look him up,” Shore said.
Shore said he’s very excited to add a player of Díaz’ caliber to the roster who can play both on the left and on the right as an attacking outside defender. Díaz said playing for a team in the United States will be a learning curve but he is excited to be here.
Díaz has aspirations of playing in the MLS someday and jumped at the opportunity to gain experience with Forward Madison FC. He said wasn’t worried about the frigid Madison winters after Ibarra told him about the opening on the Forward Madison FC roster.
“I was really looking to play over here,” Díaz said. “I’m really happy that I’ve signed. This is a great opportunity that the coaches have given me.”
Both Shore and Wilt said Díaz contributes to the diversity of experience on the team. Foward Madison FC has already signed players like Ecuadorian Midfielder Danny Tenorio, Panamanian Midfielder Josiel Núñez and Brazilian Forward Paulo Júnior. Díaz said he believes he will fit right in with an attack-minded system.
“Coach Shore wants a really offensive team, and having the ball, passing the ball around, that’s my style,” Díaz said. “How I started my career was more offensive – I was a winger. I can defend, but when I get the ball I can attack well.”