SAN DIEGO – The bulk of the attention in Friday’s 6-0 friendly win by the US national team over Guatemala at Qualcomm Stadium rightly went to the Americans on the winning side.
But there was an American on the losing side, too. Edward Santeliz, a Chicago native of Guatemalan descent, lined up at left midfield for Los Chapines and turned in an impressive performance despite the scoreline.
Was it impressive enough to pique an MLS coach's interest? He sure hopes so.
“That’s always been my dream," he admitted to MLSsoccer.com after the match. "I’ve always wanted to be an MLS player.”
Santeliz, 26, is currently with Deportivo Malacateco in the Guatemalan first division. It's a good situation at the moment, he says, and he is getting an opportunity on the revamped Guatemala squad. On Friday night, he earned his second cap.
“It’s going good for me. I’m on a national team, and it’s always something that I wanted as a player,” Santeliz said. “I play for one of the biggest teams in Guatemala, so I’m pretty happy about that.”
It wasn't always going so well. As a teenager, he left his hometown of Glendale Heights, Ill., to join Guatemalan club Suchitepéquez, based in Mazatenango. In 2007, he says, he had a trial with FC Dallas, but nothing came of it. He stayed with Suchitepéquez until 2010, when he returned to the US and spent a season with lower-division side Miami FC. And after that, he wound up playing indoor soccer in Chicago for a little while.
Finally, though, Santeliz returned to Guatemala, where he has been since 2011.
“I’m always trying to better day by day, and see where it leads me,” he said. “It doesn’t matter which team [in MLS]. I would just like to play in the States. I grew up here, so I kind of miss it.”