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Exclusive Interview: Former Chivas USA player Mariano Trujillo talks broadcasting, his coaching aspirations in MLS

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Trujillo: Ready to get back into MLS, in the coaching ranks
Trujillo: Ready to get back into MLS, in the coaching ranks
Stephen Dunn

Mariano Trujillo played for Chivas USA from 2009-11 during a career that also included call-ups to the Mexican national team. The defender has been away from the Goats for a couple years now, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been busy. Recently, I caught up with Trujillo to discuss life after Chivas, and more specifically, life after playing professional soccer. Many thanks to Mariano for his time!

The Goat Parade: First, can you fill readers in on what you did after leaving Chivas USA?

Mariano Trujillo: It was 2011 when I was released, and then I took time off, just enjoying time with my family for four or five months. And then after that, I received a call from [Jose Guadalupe] "El Profe" Cruz, a coach in Mexico. He was coaching Jaguares de Chiapas, and he invited me to be a part of his coaching staff, so I decided to take it. I traveled to Mexico, to Chiapas, and I was there for two weeks as an assistant coach.

And then I started to practice with the team because they didn't have enough players for the preseason there in Mexico. After two more weeks he talked to me and he said, "You know, I want you to keep playing, I'm going to sign you as a player." I wasn't sure to be honest, because in my mind it was clear that I wanted to coach instead of being on the field. But after talking with my wife and some of the players that were on the team that I played with in the past, we all agreed that it was a good opportunity. So I told him I was ready to play again, and he said, you know what, you're going to play but I also want you to help me as an assistant coach, and it was a good challenge for me. I learned a lot but I enjoyed it a lot also.

TGP: Are you interested in getting further into coaching?

MT: Yes, I love it. I was there for one year and actually I had the opportunity to go back to the coaching staff of Profe Cruz, he's currently coaching the Rayados de Monterrey, who are traveling to the Club World Cup, and he invited me, but I decided to stay in the U.S. because of family.

But yes, I want to do it. I really like it, and I can picture myself coaching a team. I would love to do it here in MLS, I would love to start my coaching career in MLS. And eventually, if the opportunity appears, maybe in Mexico. But I'm happy here and I would love to have a chance in the U.S.

TGP: How did you get involved in TV? Was that something you wanted to pursue after playing?

MT: It was funny because the season was over in Mexico, and the owners of Jaguares de Chiapas decided to sell the team to a different owner. So since I didn't have a contract as a player I was in the middle of both owners. El Profe Cruz told me he would stay away from teams for a few months, and he actually turned down Atlas and Atlante. He told me if I had the chance in a few more months to coach another team, the right team for him, I would call him to join his staff, and that was the plan. The plan was to stay in Mexico and wait until he gets another team.

But then I received a call from Fox Soccer, inviting me for the Gold Cup, they wanted an ex-player, an ex-national team player, to analyze the Mexican national team through the Gold Cup here in the U.S. So I thought about it, and said, "All right, I'll give it a shot." I came here to LA, we did the screen test, had a couple of questions, an interview, and they decided to bring me in the project. It was a nice experience, I really liked it. I didn't get my degree in Mexico in communications, but I did two years, and it's something I really like. I like radio more than TV, but it was out of the blue. It wasn't in my mind, it was something I might like to do in the future, but maybe after my coaching career. I think now it's going in a different direction.

TGP: How has the adjustment been in being an analyst? Do you watch yourself or receive coaching on your performance?

MT: It's the same. I'm very tough [on myself]. I was like that as a player, and as an assistant coach I watched all the games, and reviewed all the parts I needed to as part of the coaching staff. Now that I have the opportunity, Eric Wynalda, Rob Stone, and Warren Barton have helped me a lot. They have given me a lot of tips on how to do it. But yeah, I've recorded every single TV show that I was on, just to analyze what I was saying, just the little things you have to do when you're on TV. I'm still doing it.

Now I've made the transition from Fox Sports to Fox Deportes, we now broadcast the Champions League, and I record every game, and play the game and listen to myself, and obviously I'm always trying to improve.

TGP: I've noticed quite a few former Chivas USA players getting involved in broadcasting after their playing days. Do you think there's a reason for so many of you going into TV?

MT: To be honest, it's a way for players to stay involved in the game. Some players, they don't want the coaching career, they want more stability, and being on television, you can have the stability to live in one city instead of traveling around. Obviously that, and I think the fans watching the games, they're more analytic, and they want ex-pro athletes to say something about the game, say something about whatever situation is happening. So I think that's why the TV channels are turning their eyes to ex-professional athletes.

TGP: You've been at Fox for several months now. Do you think you'll be staying there for quite awhile?

MT: I signed a contract for the Champions League, so I have to stay there until May next year, the final of the Champions League. After that, I'm not sure. Like I said, I would love to be a part of a coaching staff here in MLS, and if that happens I will be excited. But if I don't have that opportunity right now, I think I will stay with Fox, I really enjoy being a part of that family. I'm enjoying all this media work.

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