Efraín Juárez Valdez (born 22 February 1988) is a Mexican footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder or right back for Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Major League Soccer.
Club Universidad Nacional
Juárez joined the Pumas youth system at the age of thirteen. After winning the 2005 under-17 World Championship, playing a key role in defense, he was snapped up by Barcelona along with national teammate Jorge Hernández in 2006. Without very much support and very few minutes given in the Barcelona B team, he returned to Pumas Morelos and it took some time for coach Ricardo Ferretti to call him to Pumas. Competing for a position in the right wing with Fernando Espinoza, he quickly became a starter in Ferretti's team. With Ferretti's decision to give continuity to its team, Juárez renewed his contract facing the Clausura 2009 tournament. Pumas finished champions, beating Pachuca.
On 17 July 2010, Pumas accepted a bid for Juárez from Scottish Premier League club Celtic. On 26 July a £2 million transfer was agreed and Juárez signed a four-year contract with The Hoops, making him the first ever Mexican player to play in the SPL. Juárez made his Celtic debut in a 3–0 Champions League defeat away to Braga. He scored his first goal for the club in the return fixture at Celtic Park with a header. He then scored his second goal, again at Celtic Park, in a Europa League qualifying first leg match against Utrecht two weeks later. Juárez was close to agreeing a loan move to Serie A side Brescia Calcio in the January 2011 transfer window but the deal fell through. He had fallen out of favour with the first team and his agent admitted that Juárez would need to move on in the summer of 2011 in order to play first team football.
Real Zaragoza (loan)
Juarez during his tenure at Zaragoza
On 26 July 2011, after weeks of speculation, Juárez was loaned out to La Liga side Real Zaragoza, where he was reunited with former Mexico national team coach Javier Aguirre. He made his debut for Zaragoza in a 6–0 loss against Real Madrid. He then scored his first goal for the club in a 4–3 defeat to Real Betis.
On 5 June 2012 it was announced that Juárez had transferred to América in Mexico for an undisclosed fee, after failing to cement his place in the starting line-up for Celtic, and after his disappointing stint for Real Zaragoza. He made his first appearance for América on 27 June in a 0–2 preseason loss against Jaguares. He made his league debut on 21 July in a 0–0 draw against Monterrey.
Juárez signed with Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer on 18 January 2018.
On 28 June 2009, Juárez made his first international cap with the Mexico senior team against Guatemala. Juárez played a part of the team that won the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. In the Gold Cup, he mainly played at right back. He started and completed all games played in the competition. Thanks to his great performance, he quickly gained a spot on the national team. Juárez scored for Mexico against Costa Rica during a penalty shootout.
On 11 June 2010, Juárez became the first player to be booked at the 2010 World Cup in Mexico's opening match against South Africa. He also played in Mexico's 2–0 victory over France on 17 June, when he was replaced by Javier Hernandez on 55 minutes, who later himself went on to score.
On 22 September 2010, it was announced that Juarez and Mexico teammate Carlos Vela banned from international duty for six months for their involvement in a party in Monterrey following a game with Colombia two weeks earlier.
Juarez scored his first goal for the national team in the 5–0 win against El Salvador in the opening match of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup on 5 June.