By Estela Nunez
The trademark blue and red colors of the Mustangs are a thing of the past for SMU alum-gone-pro Bruno Guarda. Red and white were the colors he wore one recent morning as he kicked the ball around on the practice fields at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco during his last training session of the 2008 season.
He played three years for SMU before turning pro in 2008.
As a rookie with FC Dallas, Guarda saw plenty of playing time this past season. He played 822 minutes in 12 games. Although he received a large amount of playing time, the shift from college to pro wasn’t easy.
“I’m used to scoring and assisting more, but that will all come with time and experience. I just have to be patient,” said Guarda of the transition.
During SMU men’s 2008 fall soccer season, Guarda’s familiar face in the Mustangs starting lineup was missed by fans at Westcott Field. Don’t fret though; he didn’t go too far. You can catch him in action at Pizza Hut Park, the home of his new team FC Dallas where he is coached by his former SMU coach Schellas Hyndman.
Marcie Jimenez, who is a longtime fan of Guarda, goes out to Frisco with her family to watch him play as often as possible.
“We are happy for him here with FC Dallas, but we definitely miss seeing him in action at SMU,” said Marcie Jimenez.
When he gets a chance to relax, Guarda enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, who attends SMU, and listening to Pagode music. His favorite soccer player is Kaka, who is from Brazil and plays for A.C. Milan.
The Brazilian midfielder led SMU in goals, assists, shots, and game-winning goals in the 2007 season. He has also been named the two-time Conference USA player of the year.
Guarda signed with Major League Soccer (MLS) on July 20, 2008 with only a year of college remaining. He was majoring in international studies, with a minor in Spanish.
“It was a tough decision, but at the end of the day soccer is and has been my passion for as long as I can remember,” said Guarda.
Guarda, whose biggest influence is his father, also took into consideration the advice of both his parents, Clever and Katia Guarda, and his older brother before making the final decision.
“Ultimately I had to consult with my family before choosing to go pro; they would have supported me equally on whatever decision I made. With my rookie season completed I do feel I made the best decision,” said Guarda.
Guarda was placed in what is called the weighted lottery. This is offered to players that have been previously been asked to join the league and declined.
“The first time around I declined the offer simply because I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for the big move. Now I’m here and couldn’t be happier,” said Guarda.
Initially Guarda was acquired by the Colorado Rapids, but that was short-lived since he never actually joined the team. Why? Coach Hyndman, who was familiar with Guarda and his style of play knew that he wanted him to be part of the FC Dallas squad. Hyndman sacrificed his second and third round picks of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft as well as an allocation to Colorado in exchange for Guarda.
Hyndman, who was born in Macau, coached at SMU for 24 years. The Eastern Illinois alum, who is also an established Aiki Ju-Justso coach, has earned eight league and five regional Coach of the Year honors with the Mustangs.
The 22-year-old Guarda, who was born in Piracicaba, Brazil, came to Dallas when he was 15 to join a local club soccer team, The Dallas Texans. While there he earned several championships.
SMU senior forward Paulo da Silva, who is also from Brazil had been teammates with Guarda since they mutually joined The Dallas Texans Soccer Club in 2002. They remained teammates at SMU until Guarda joined FC Dallas.
“It would have been nice to complete our last year at SMU together; we have shared so many great memories through soccer here in Dallas from the time we both arrived from Brazil. I’m happy for him though,” da Silva said.
Guarda also got to enjoy the sweet taste of his first career goal as a professional soccer player during this season. He wants this streak to continue next year, so during off-season he will be training hard on his own to better himself.
“I have to keep working during off-season because I want to be prepared for next year, and have a spot on the starting 11,” said Guarda, who will travel to Brazil to be with his family during the off-season.
“It’s crazy how my maturity level has risen during the season. This year my priorities were different from last year. As a professional soccer player I have to really take of myself,” said Guarda.