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Sueño MLS: Raised next to Dick's Sporting Goods Park, young goalkeeper motivates himself into finals

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – When the six winners of Colorado’s Sueño MLS presented by Allstate were announced on national television on Sunday morning, the families of five of the winners, standing in a roped-off area just yards from their loved ones, yelped and screamed for joy.

When Ernesto Galvan’s name was announced, however, there was simply a smattering of polite applause. The middle of seven children (he’s got five sisters and a brother), Ernesto’s family was nowhere to be found during the announcement.

In fact, while the rest of the rest of the finalists were excitedly scouring through their winner’s packets, the 15-year-old goalkeeper from Commerce City -- who was named El Portero Allstate -- was glued to his iPhone, trying to get a hold of his parents and tell them the big news: He was going to Los Angeles. He’d won!

But his parents were busy with his siblings and Easter preparations, unable to pick up the phone, let alone make the half-mile trek from their home to their son’s tryout.

“They couldn’t come,” said the sophomore Galvan, who plays for Adams City High School near Denver. “They haven’t answered me [either].”

This certainly isn’t a sob story. It’s one of determination, and that’s certainly the best noun to describe Ernesto, who grew up – literally – in the shadows of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

He just might crack 5-foot-9, certainly putting him shorter than most of his goalkeeping counterparts in last weekend’s competition. And while he battled it out over the two-day competition with dozens of other ‘keepers from Colorado to Wisconsin to Texas, one thing stuck out about Galvan: his ability to play bigger than his stocky sub-six-foot frame.

“I’ve taken extra time to work on myself and my goalkeeping skills, and I think it’s paid off,” said Ernesto, who was born in Mexico but moved to the Denver area when he was three. “I was so excited.”

Most of the contestants drove from areas near but mostly far to get to Ernesto’s backyard. Fellow winners Luis Loera (Albuquerque, N.M.) and Oscar Aragon (Magnolia, Texas) spent a day driving from their respective hometowns for just a chance to taste the same glory Ernesto was able to achieve with a 10-minute walk.

And while most of his fellow winners were boisterous and blabbering words left and right after they found out that they were heading to California, Ernesto was noticeably shy and quiet. He didn’t have anyone to share his excitement with, sans a reporter and José Mari, the Colorado Rapids midfielder who offered encouragement to all the winners after they’d been announced.

But Galvan’s smile, even as he started the 10-minute walk back to his house, couldn’t be wiped off his face – even if his Mom and Dad weren’t picking up their darn phones.

And at some point, his parents will have to pick up their phone and drive their determined, talented son to Denver International Airport next month.

“I just feel proud of myself,” said Ernesto, who lists former German national teamer Oliver Kahn as his idol. “After all, hard work pays off.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.