Within the Black & Gold roster, there are seven Hispanic players: Luis Argudo, Federico Higuain, Hector Jimenez, Cristian Martinez, Gaston Sauro, Eduardo Sosa and Milton Valenzuela. Of these seven players, two were actually born inside the United States: Luis Argudo and Hector Jimenez.
Yet, despite being born in the U.S., the first language that Argudo and Jimenez spoke was not English.
“When I was born, I lived in the [United] States for a year and then I moved to Ecuador for five [years]. Spanish was my first language. Coming back here was a little difficult – I didn’t know English,” shared Argudo, a New Yorker born to an Ecuadorian father and a Colombian mother.
“I didn’t know a lick of English. I was in English as a Second Language classes from first to second grade, but it was fine because the other kids in my class were also in ESL. It was great to get along with kids who didn’t know English as well as I did and even learning other languages from the other kids.”
In addition to the obstacle of learning English, Argudo also experienced a bit of a culture shock, especially in an area as diverse as Queens, NY which was vastly different from what he was used to.
“In Ecuador everyone speaks Spanish. Here it’s not just English, especially in New York there’s a variety of cultures. My class had Asians, people from Europe – just a bunch of different cultures.”
Hector Jimenez had a similar experience. Born to Mexican parents, Jimenez attended ESL classes from an early age.
“I attended it, I think, from first grade to fifth grade,” said Jimenez. “Half of it was in Spanish and the second half was in English, or we would switch classrooms to go the English teacher. But it was just a part of me. My parents didn’t want me to lose my Spanish.“
But while Argudo had to deal with the culture shock of a diverse city, Jimenez grew up in Bell Gardens, CA, a city with a population that is mostly Hispanic. Such an environment made things easier for Jimenez, allowing him to continue speaking Spanish on a regular basis outside of his home.
“The community is all Hispanic. Spanish was always spoken inside and outside of the classroom. It’s something that now that I’m older you kind of thank your parents because it’s kind of nice to speak two languages and be able to communicate on and off the field with some of these guys here.”
Having experienced the difficulty of learning a new language, Argudo and Jimenez realize the advantage of being bilingual when it comes to assisting their Spanish-speaking teammates.
“It’s pretty big. We have players like Cristian [Martinez], [Eduardo] Sosa and Milton [Valenzuela] who don’t really speak English, but my being bilingual helps them feel more at home and it helps us communicate with them more. Obviously, that translates to the field and performing well,” said Argudo.
“Whenever I can help out with translating or helping another guy with some of the vocabulary, I do it,” stated Jimenez. “I remember going through it and it was tough so it’s nice to be able to help out with that kind of stuff. I’ve been in that situation and I’ve had help. It’s cool.”
Make sure to come out to MAPFRE Stadium this Saturday to watch Argudo, Jimenez and the rest of our Hispanic players as Crew SC hosts the Colorado Rapids on Hispanic Heritage Night (7:30 p.m. ET / CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2, CD102.5 FM, English and Spanish audio broadcasts available on ColumbusCrewSC.com).