Young and bristling with untapped potential, the 15 finalists of Sueño MLS 2010 - built by the Home Depot, arrived in Los Angeles this week. They came from disparate starting points like Jackson, Tenn., and Crowley, Tex., and Fairfield, Calif., but they all have the same destination: a career as a professional soccer player.
After all, Sueño MLS worked for Jorge Flores, who now features for Chivas USA, and for Gabriel Funes, now a regular starter for Argentine powerhouse River Plate. Why not for them?
The young hopefuls were put through their paces by former MLS coach and current MLS technical director Alfonso Mondelo in training sessions on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.
“They are all pretty equal at this point,” Mondelo told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I haven’t seen anyone stand out yet. But they are young. They all have good feet. And the talent level is pretty good.”
The squad will be tested in scrimmages against the LA Galaxy Youth Academy Under-16 on Thursday evening and the Chivas USA Under 16 team on Saturday morning, as well as attend Saturday’s Chivas USA-Houston Dynamo match at the Home Depot Center.
Mondelo, who is receiving assistance from Peruvian World Cup legend Teofilio “Nene” Cubillas and American World Cup veteran Marcelo Balboa, realizes the difficulty some of these kids—the youngest is 14 years old—face performing in Sueño MLS’ competitive environment, sometimes for the first time. Plus, gelling 15 players in two or three days is near impossible. But that’s the deal.
“We take into consideration that this is not a team,” Mondelo said. “They are meeting each other for the first time. Plus, most of them are not playing at a top level or a top club. Some of them are not used to hard training sessions. So this is all new.
“But they have talent. Now they must try to make the right decisions. Do they anticipate? Do they read the game well? Will they improve? That’s what we’re looking for.”
The 15 national finalists in Sueño MLS 2010 - built by the Home Depot
Nelson Castro, defender, 14 – Houston, TX
Juan Contreras, midfielder, 16 – Dickinson, TX
Eric Martinez, forward, 15 – Houston, TX
Marco Ortiz, midfielder, 15 – Crowley, TX
Lorenzo Salazar, midfielder, 15 – Houston, TX
Oscar Barraza, midfielder, 16 – Elgin, IL
Juan Celleri, forward, 15 – Chicago, IL
Vicente Jaramillo, forward, 16 – Detroit, MI
Erick Jimenez, defender, 15 – Chicago, IL
Miguel Moncada, forward, 18 – Jackson, TN
Denis Alvarado, midfielder, 16 – Fairfield, CA
Javier Castro, forward, 18 – Pomona, CA
Victor Jimenez, forward, 16 – Anaheim, CA
Jonathan Navas, midfielder, 18 – Los Angeles, CA
Oscar Velazquez, defender, 14 – Las Vegas, NV