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U17 World Cup champion Efrain Juarez announces retirement

The 2005 U17 World Cup champion retires after a short but at time very successful career.

Efrain Juarez - Mexico v USA - FIFA World Cup 2010 Qualifier Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/LatinContent via Getty Images

Ex-Mexico international Efrain Juarez Valdez has retired from football and will take a job as an assistant coach of New York City FC. Juarez was part of the 2005 U17 World Cup team where he was not only a key starter with the team but also scored against Costa Rica in the final minutes of their Quarterfinal game, tying the game and sending it to overtime where Mexico won. It was the closest the team came to getting eliminated, and it probably would have done so if his shot hadn’t gone through for the 1-1 tie. Juarez later on was a key player in Mexico and was one of the top players in the team for the 2010 World Cup campaign. After the tournament he would move to Europe for spells in Celtic and then Real Zaragoza.

Juarez came through the Pumas system and would later play with America and Monterrey. Later years he would move to MLS with the Vancouver Whitecaps, and will play his last pro game in Norway with Valerenga.

Efrain Juarez came up through the Pumas system. Like most of the team, his big move was with the 2005 U17 team. Juarez was a starter with the team and his big move came in the Quarterfinal game against Costa Rica. In that game, Mexico went down 1-0 with an own goal by Juarez, although the play came off a bad clearance from Edgar Andrade that Juarez couldn’t keep out of the net. Then in the final minutes, Juarez took a shot that deflected off a Costa Rican player and it went in for the 1-1 tie. Mexico later came on to win the game in extra time by a score of 3-1. Mexico then went on to beat the Netherlands 4-0 in the Semifinals and 3-0 in the final against Brazil. It won the World Cup, the first World Cuo title for Mexico in any age category and one of the most important moments in Mexican football history.

After the U17 World Cup, Juarez went with a trial for Barcelona but after not signing with the team, he ended up on loan with Barbate. After the 2007 U20 World Cup, Juarez went back to Pumas, where he got several starts and then became a regular player. His play on the team (where he won the 2009 Clausura title) saw him get a call up to the 2009 Gold Cup, along with many other players on that squad from the 2005 U17 World Cup title. Mexico won the Gold Cup by defeating the United States 5-0 and Juarez was one of the stand out players from the tournament, earning a spot in the Senior Mexican National team under Javier Aguirre. Juarez then came up big in the next two World Cup qualifiers. First he had a great game and made the decisive run in the second goal for Mexico in their 2-1 win against the United States in Estadio Azteca. Then Juarez had a monster match in San Jose, Costa Rica when Mexico defeated them 3-0 for Mexico’s first road win in the hexagonal. Mexico had been struggling in the qualifiers before the Gold Cup and Juarez was a key player in the two matches that turned things around.

Juarez became a regular with the Mexican National team and although his performances with Pumas weren’t as great under Coach Ricardo Ferretti, Juarez arrived in the 2010 World Cup as a starter. Juarez was key in both games, but missed the third game of the competition against Uruguay because of yellow card suspension. Juarez came back for the Round of 16 match against Argentina but Mexico was eliminated.

After the World Cup, Juarez made the move to Europe by joining Scottish side Celtic. While he had a good start in the team, as the season progressed he lost his starting spot as he went back to his later Pumas level and not his Mexico level. Under Juan Manuel de la Torre, he returned to Mexico’s National Team by playing the 2011 Gold Cup. In the opening match, Juarez scored his only Senior International goal with Mexico, the first goal of the tournament in a 5-0 win over El Salvador.

With Juarez as a starter, Mexico won the tournament with a 4-2 win against the United States in what would be his last major accomplishment with Mexico. After the tournament, Juarez reunited with Coach Javier Aguirre at Real Zaragoza but he, along with ex-Pumas teammate Pablo Barrera, didn’t have a good season. Juarez would return to Mexico, this time with Pumas’ rival America. His spell at America wasn’t successful, and he would end up loaned out to Monterrey with the move eventually made permanent. While his time in Monterrey was better than in America, he never was able to get to his old level and he was never more than a regular player with the team. Juarez never got back to his 2009-2010 level and eventually he left for MLS after not being in the picture for Monterrey. Juarez spent a year with the Vancouver Whitecaps and then later would return to Europe with Valerenga of Norway. After that, he would end his career this week and join the coaching staff of NYCFC.

While Efrain’s career was short lived, it reached a very spectacular height and he will be part of history, first in the 2005 U17 World Cup and then with the 2010 World Cup campaign. Juarez won a U17 World Cup, a Liga MX title and a Gold Cup, while also starting a World Cup, which means he’s part of an historic group that made history in Mexico. Fans should have great memories for a career that although somewhat short, was very successful as he placed honor for Mexican football.