TUKWILA, Wash. — After a long and strenuous first day of Sueño MLS presented by Allstate on Saturday, the wheat was separate from the chaff. On Sunday morning, the last remaining 30 participants — the wheat, if you will — got the chance to showcase their skills a second time, with a trip to Los Angeles and the final stage in the offing.
Before taking the field at the Starfire Sports Complex for a series of full-sided matches, the participants received a visit from Seattle Sounders striker Fredy Montero. The Colombian ace gave the teenagers a pep talk before heading out to his own training just a few fields over.
"Not many kids get opportunities like these and the fact that MLS is in its sixth year of Sueño says a lot of how determined this league is to grow," Montero told MLSsoccer.com.
Herbert Cojulun, a 17-year-old forward from South Carolina, crossed the continent to chase his soccer dream. He wants to play in MLS, and he saw a kindred spirit in Montero, who has scored 34 goals in 91 matches since joining the Sounders in 2009.
"Being a forward myself, speaking with Montero gave me the confidence to be near perfect ahead of today’s final tryout," Cojulun said.
The players eventually had enough of the talk and hit the field. They were watched by the Sounders youth development staff, more comfortable on the second day but also more intense. The reward of being one of the five or six players chosen for the final round was there for the taking.
But even if a player didn’t make it, that didn’t mean it’s all over.
Goalkeeper Hector Palos, 17, who crossed the country from Philadelphia to take part in his second Sueño MLS tryout, was living proof of that.
"I tried out last year in Philadelphia and didn’t make it,” Palos said. “But that has motivated me to work harder this time around."
Seattle Sounders Director of Youth Development Darren Sawatzy, one of the coaches responsible for choosing the Seattle finalists, appreciated Palos’s mindset. After all, not every player can advance this time.
"Sometimes to hear the word ‘no’ is better than hearing the word ‘yes,’” Sawatzky told MLSsoccer.com. “Because it makes you decide on how much you’re willing to work and how much you want to sacrifice to reach your dream.”
Tune into Univison's "Republica Deportiva" on Sunday, April 29, to learn who made the finals from Seattle.