Alan Pulido’s transfer to Sporting Kansas City puts him in a group of several high-profile Mexico internationals and former Liga MX starts that have joined MLS in recent years.
The question is, why now? It's one Pulido attempted to answer as he was introduced in Kansas City for the first time on Tuesday.
“The first thing is, life is different here in terms of the quality of life,” Pulido said. “That being said, the league in itself has grown a great amount. There have been names that have joined the league like David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. This motivates players because you want to be on the stage with those types of names.”
Coming from Liga MX, Pulido joins Lucas Cavallini, Edison Flores and Lucas Zelarayan among that league's offseason exports to MLS.
In terms of familiar faces to El Tri fans, there's the continuing rumors surrounding Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, as well as rumblings regarding Pulido's former Chivas teammate Rodolfo Pizarro. They would join Pulido, LAFC's Carlos Vela and LA Galaxy's Jonathan dos Santos as the biggest Mexican names in MLS.
Pulido cited the chances other Latin American players have earned to move to Europe following success in MLS — such as Miguel Almiron's league-record transfer to Newcastle United last year — as a major motivator for his compatriots.
“I know there are Mexican players that definitely think about that in terms of European teams watching them,” Pulido said. “So when you add all those things together, that’s why Mexican players are being drawn to the league.”
Additonally, players like Uriel Antuna have earned Mexico national team opportunities while playing in MLS. And with former Atlanta United manager Tata Martino now in charge of El Tri, Mexican players know the league will be taken seriously in terms of evaluating players for selection for international duty.
For his part, Pulido arrives in Kansas City insistent an international return is on the forefront of his mind.
“The first [goal] I think about is the national team,” Pulido said. “The national team is something I always [strive] for.”
Pulido’s last call-up was in November of 2018, where he played a total of 53 minutes over two matches against Argentina. He has five international goals in 13 caps over his career, and is hopeful to draw Martino's attention with strong performances for Sporting.
“He knows the market, he knows the league,” Pulido said of Martino. “In the past there have been other players such as Jonathan dos Santos, and Antuna that have also gone to the national team having played in this league. So, this league offers me that challenge and the ability to get that exposure. That being said, I know that it is dependent on me and my work and that I put myself through a lot of effort to get back to [the national team].”