TIJUANA Alejandro Guido no longer has to worry about long distance phone calls, long airplane rides and odd food.
No more feeling lonely and no more being homesick.
The Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuntles midfielder is where he wants to be, for now.
Instead of dialing his parents in Chula Vista in the middle of the night from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Guido can walk into the next room. He lives with his parent, again.
"Hey, I am saving some money," Guido said.
The Mater Dei High alum is home playing professional soccer for the first time in his life. He only needs to cross the border into Tijuana to practice and play. And he doesn't have to wait for hours at the border to return into the United States. He has his SENTRI pass which allows him to enter a much quicker checkpoint. It's a vast difference from living in Holland trying his chances on a pro club's youth team six months ago.
That is where Guido was trying to launch his pro career while on trial with Vitesse Arnhme of the Dutch First Division.
Guido is now part of the Xolos' Under-20 squad. He is a starter. He's scored a goal for Tijuana this season. Guido is a prospect coach Antonio Mohamed is hoping someday will fit in the senior team's roster.
He appears to be a step closer.
The 18-year-old made his debut in the Mexican First Division Tuesday night in a Xolos 2-1 win against Celaya FC at a half empty Estadio Caliente in the second leg of a Copa MX group stage match up.
Guido started the match at center midfield and played 71 minutes before being substituted by Luis Garcia. He played behind forwards Raul Enriquez and Raul Nava. Guido helped feed the ball up to the strikers. One of his touches ultimately resulted in an Enriquez goal. Midfielder Richard Ruiz also scored for the Xolos.
Guido almost had a goal of his own. He sent a left-footed shot just outside the left post in the 50th minute.
Guido had been on the bench in the Tijuana's previous three Copa MX matches.
The Copa MX, a tournament featuring First and Second Division teams, doesn't feature the top players in the Mexican league with most clubs opting to use backups and members of their reserve squads.
That is fine with Guido.
He is getting the chance he wanted. And it beats living in Holland as a 17-year-old, away from his family, friends and his favorite food: mom's home cooking.
"Not having more of a normal (teenage) life was difficult," Guido said. "You have your teammates but you are everywhere bouncing around without your family and your friends. That has to be one of the toughest things. But I learned a lot and I have matured faster. That's helped a lot. I am not accustomed to that (being away)."
Then there was the language barrier.
Guido is fluent in English and Spanish but cannot speak Dutch. Lucky for Guido, who is a product of United States Soccer's ODP program based in Florida, his Vitesse Arnhme roommate in Holland spoke Spanish.
"It was an incredible experience," Guido said of his time in Europe. "I was living with one of the first team players from Ecuador (Reinato Ibarra). He spoke Spanish so that was an easy transition. Everyone else spoke Dutch. I had to get around the language, learn it. Get used to the culture. It was different but I managed and I think that helped a lot."
It also helped that Guido was part of the United States Under-17 squad that played in the 2011 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
That's where the Dutch club got to see Guido play and soon after recruited the kid who grew up playing soccer at various parks in Tijuana before moving across the border to play for the Chula Vista Aztecs youth club.
"I was on my own," Guido said about his entire journey from Mater Dei High back to Tijuana. "You are 15, 16 it's pretty difficult. You learn from that. You toughen up. You grow up. Since I was little I was a mature kid. I knew my dream. I knew what I wanted. Whatever it took, I would do it to reach my dream."