GUADALAJARA, Mexico – One by one, the players of US Open Cup sensation Cal FC are starting to find their feet in the professional world.
The latest to sign is forward Eder Arreola, who will begin his pro career at Delfines del Carmen in Mexico's third division on a one-year contract.
“Basically, I'm trying to make a name for myself out here in Mexico,” the 20-year-old told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday, adding that he believes the experience down south will improve him as a player in the long run.
A UCLA graduate who has been part of the US youth national team setup since the Under-15 level, Arreola was selected by Houston Dynamo in the first round of the MLS Supplemental Draft back in January, but was cut just one week before the MLS season got underway.
“I personally feel like I did well and I felt comfortable with the guys,” said Arreola. “For some reason, it just didn't work out for me there but I am very thankful to the Houston Dynamo organization for giving me the opportunity to win a spot on their roster.”
That was when amateur club Cal FC stepped in, giving Arreola a platform to show himself in their famous upset of the Portland Timbers in the US Open Cup before bowing out to the Seattle Sounders.
Now down south and in preseason ahead of the Delfines' Segunda División debut on August 18 against Ballenas Galeana Morelos, the Los Angeles native remains grateful for what Eric Wynalda's team did for his career.
“Eric Wynalda formed Cal FC to bring guys that were let go by professional teams that he knew are good enough to be at that level,” explained Arreola. “So for me, I feel like it helped me a lot in believing in myself and getting my confidence level up.”
Arreola is the latest Cal FC player to find a professional home. Goalkeeper Derby Carrillo is playing in El Salvador, while midfielders Alberto Navarro and Danny Barrera are playing under Wynalda at the NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks.
A regular at The Home Depot Center to watch the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA, Arreola maintains ambitions of one day playing in MLS.
“If the opportunity was there for me to return to the MLS, I would definitely look at the possibility," he said, "but until then, I have to work hard and do things right here with Delfines."
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.