In the early stages of that process is 18-year-old Midland, Tex. native Brooks Fergerson, who clearly isn't frightened of a challenge. The center-back made the move south to Torreon, Coahuila at the start of 2017 to join Santos Laguna's Under-20s squad despite not speaking Spanish, having no Mexican background and having previously never watched a full Liga MX game.
It wasn't like Fergerson didn't have options to develop his career in America. Prior to joining Los Guerreros, he was playing for FC Dallas West Texas and spent one season at FC Dallas Premier, but doors really began to open when his friend persuaded him to join an Alianza de Futbol trial in Dallas in early 2016. Fergerson ended up with invitations to try out for Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, Atlante, Necaxa and Santos Laguna.
So why head to Mexico?
"For me personally, the decision that was more than just football," explained Fergerson in a recent interview in Guadalajara with ESPN FC. "I knew coming to Mexico would test me personally at such a young age, [especially] not knowing the language. I thought I would learn about football plus learn about myself and test myself. For me, it was more of a personal challenge."
The journey pic.twitter.com/iAwrrf3zJp
- Brooks Fergerson (@brooks_ferg) January 6, 2017
Convincing his parents that moving to Santos Laguna to chase his dream abroad was made more difficult by the death of Fergerson's older brother, Marcus, in November 2014, an event that clearly marked the young player and his family's life. Fergerson says he dedicates each game to the brother's memory.
"It does take a lot of drive to succeed, just knowing the tragedy me and my family went through," explained Fergerson. "You can obviously use it in a negative way or a positive way and it's hard to always be positive about it knowing he was my brother, but I definitely try to make him proud every time I play."