CHICAGO – When Sueño MLS resumed at Calumet Park a weekend ago, there were a lot of nervous and anxious faces trying to make a good impression. But not Vicente Jaramillo.
The Detroit resident had been through this before and knew what it took to get to the national stage.
In 2010, Jaramillo was one of five Chicago-area finalists chosen to travel to Los Angeles and participate in the national competition.
“It was a great experience and I made it to the top three last year in Los Angeles,” Jaramillo told MLSsoccer.com recently during a break from full-sided games. “I got to meet other players and pro players that I didn’t even know about.”
Among those professional players he didn’t know about included Marcelo Balboa and Teófilo “Nene” Cubillas.
Born in Laredo, Mexico, the 16-year-old Jaramillo moved to the United States with his family 15 years ago and started playing soccer at the age of four. His father, also Vicente Jaramillo, taught him the game and made the four-and-a-half hour drive with his son, hoping that the younger Jaramillo could find good competition in Chicago.
“He plays on a club team in Michigan,” the senior Jaramillo said as the players and parents battled high winds. “It's good when you can compete with others outside your region like Michigan. It’s a wonderful experience for him.”
Since the trip to Los Angeles for Sueño MLS’ 2010 finals, Jaramillo has been focusing on his club team, Waza, improving facets of his game while playing quality competition.
According to his father, Jaramillo is a good player with strong soccer knowledge.
“What he does really well is his first touch on the ball,” said the elder Jaramillo. “He has a good first touch and he has good vision to see where to put the ball next.”
During Day One of Sueño Chicago, Jaramillo was the player that stood out the most, handling passes in the rain with a soft first touch and helping move the ball up the field. His deft touch and vision ahead are similar skills used to describe his favorite player, Lionel Messi.
Jaramillo believes that his best qualities are his penetrating through balls. While Messi is his favorite player, Jaramillo prefers Real Madrid and had his own take on the La Liga rivalry that heats up in Champions League action the first week in May.
“I think maybe José Mourinho has figured out how to beat Barcelona,” Jaramillo said, unaware that three days later, Mourinho and Real Madrid would beat Barcelona for the Copa del Rey championship.
Throughout the Sueño competition, Jaramillo lined up after several different positions on the field. His written position is as an attacking center midfielder but in the Chicago competition, he was playing right back.
After nearly winning Sueño MLS 2010, what would it mean to his father if he won it in 2011?
“I would be very happy because he has been wanting to do this for a while,” said Jaramillo Sr.
Find out the finalists from Philadelphia on Univision's "Republica Deportiva," on Sunday, May 1, 11 am ET.