American Exports: El Salvador call up Cal FC hero Carrillo

Cal FC goalkeeper Derby Carrillo

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Portland Timbers

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Former Cal FC goalkeeper Derby Carrillo has been called up by the El Salvador national team for its World Cup qualifiers against Guyana next month.

The 24-year-old Southern Californian was both delighted and shocked on hearing the news. After all, he only debuted in El Salvador's first division on Aug. 5 after moving from amateur club Cal FC.

“I was just stunned, I was honestly speechless,” Carrillo told MLSsoccer.com by phone from El Salvador. “After it sunk in a little bit, I was pretty happy that the reason I came down here is starting to come true.”

Carrillo, who played collegiately at St. John’s, made his name during Cal FC's Cinderella US Open Cup run this past spring, backstopping the fifth-division club to a famous victory over the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field back in May. That run attracted interest in Carrillo – whose father is from El Salvador and mother from Guatemala – from clubs in El Salvador as well as the Central American country's federation.

The La Mirada, Calif., native has so far played only four games for newly promoted Santa Tecla, but has leaked just one goal, making a rapid impression on national team coach Juan de Dios Castillo.

Asked whether the option of waiting and trying to work his way into the US set-up was a possibility, Carrillo says it didn't enter his mind and is focused on helping La Selecta reach the World Cup for the first time since 1982.

“I always said, ‘Whoever gives me the first opportunity, I'm going to take it,’” explained the 6-foot-4 'keeper. “El Salvador came and I'm very blessed for what's been given to me.”

Carrillo joins two other Salvadoran-Americans in the El Salvador set-up: Portland Timbers defender Steve Purdy (a native of Bakersfield, Calif.) and Houston native and former MLSer Arturo Alvarez, who plays for Paços de Ferreira of Portugal.

Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at tom.marshall.mex@gmail.com.