SANTA CLARA -- As a kid in Redwood City, Mexican goalkeeper Moises Munoz knew exactly what he wanted to do: play college basketball and make it to the NBA.

The dream of professional basketball didn't die when he returned to Mexico with his family in junior high school.

Then "all of the plans changed when I started playing soccer," Munoz said just before Mexico's game Saturday night against Chile at Levi's Stadium.

Munoz, 34, is getting on in age but still hopes to be in Russia in four years to fulfill a more realistic dream of playing in the World Cup.

He barely missed making Mexico's past two teams but hasn't given up hope as the new cycle begins Saturday with El Tri facing a team that also reached the Round of 16 in Brazil.

Munoz is Mexico's backup this weekend to the sensational Guillermo Ochoa, now playing with Malaga CF of Spain's La Liga.

Mexico is relying mostly on domestic players such as Munoz, but the roster also includes stars Giovani Dos Santos and Javier Aquino of Villareal CF, Andres Guardado of Valencia CF and Hector Herrera of FC Porto.

Chile features Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal, Arturo Vidal of Juventus, Eduardo Vargas of Napoli and Claudio Bravo of FC Barcelona for the first international soccer game at Levi's.

Ochoa, 29, captured the hearts of soccer fans with acrobatic saves in Mexico's scoreless draw against host Brazil during the World Cup. He should remain El Tri's top goalkeeper through the current cycle.


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"We're always behind him, backing him up," Munoz said after a practice at Buck Shaw Stadium. "If we get a chance to play we're going to try to do the same thing."

Ochoa's rise didn't happen until this summer, though. It was Munoz in the net in November when Mexico defeated New Zealand in a playoff series to qualify for the World Cup.

But the keeper for Mexican giant Club America always seems to just miss out when it comes to the World Cup roster.

Getting the call up for the exhibition against Chile gives Munoz another chance to make his case.

"I'm going to do everything in my powers to do that," he vowed.

Born in the state of Michoacan, Munoz spent four years in Redwood City when his migrant working parents lived off Woodside Road.

Munoz's parents are American citizens, the player said, and have lived in San Jose. Munoz speaks fluent English without an accent but doesn't have residential status in the United States.

Although the Peninsula's lively Michoacan community closely follows the Mexican soccer league, Munoz adopted North American favorites basketball and football. He didn't change his habits when the family returned to Michoacan to care for a dying grandfather.

The 6-foot-1 Munoz signed with his hometown Morelia Monarchs at age 19. He spent 11 seasons with Morelia before getting traded to Atlante to play for coach Miguel Herrera.

When Herrera took over at America, he brought Munoz with him in 2011. Last fall, Herrera was recruited to salvage Mexico's flagging World Cup chances.

The coach called on Munoz during the last-gasp qualifying series but cut his keeper as Ochoa emerged.

The setback didn't dent Munoz's confidence. He already had overcome so much since getting in a serious auto accident in June, 2012 with his wife and two sons.

Some wondered if Munoz could ever play again but he returned stronger at the end of last season.

America was moments from losing the Liga MX Clausura final to Cruz Azul when Munoz scored off an extra-time corner kick to force overtime in a game eventually decided in a shootout. Munoz also saved the first penalty kick to launch America to its 11th league title.

Saturday's game

Mexico vs. Chile at Levi's Stadium, 7 p.m.,