LEESBURG, Va. – Had things gone the way the way Luis Aranzazu originally thought they would, the 17-year-old goalkeeper would have been nowhere near Morven Park for D.C. United's 2013 Sueño MLS tryouts last weekend. As it turns out, Aranzazu not only made it, he also earned a place in the Sueño MLS final in Los Angeles next month – and for that, he owes a big “thank you” to a friend.
Aranzazu, the first of three goalkeepers who will reach the final phase of the competition, had signed up for United’s Sueño MLS tryouts but did not plan on attending, as he had no means of transportation from his home in Pembroke Pines, Fla. Fortunately for Aranzazu, a gracious friend made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“At first I wasn’t going to come because my parents couldn’t come with me. But then I found out one of my friends was coming,” Aranzazu told MLSsoccer.com this past Sunday at Morven Park, moments after being named a finalist on a live broadcast of Univision's República Deportiva. “I took a ride with them and I came with them to the hotel.”
Aranzazu, who was born in Miami and is of Colombian descent, seized the opportunity. He showcased good skill and an ability to make the most of his big frame.
"He has quality size, and he was good with distribution out of the back with the ball and kept his defenders in line,” United scout Junior Castro told MLSsoccer.com. “He had a couple of very good saves that kind of separated him from the other guys.”
While Aranzazu felt he performed well on Saturday, he did not believe his performance on the second day was enough to see him advance in the competition. But it was more than enough, as he even beat out a former Sueño MLS finalist, goalkeeper Hector Palos, to make it to LA.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to win Portero Allstate,” said Aranzazu, whose favorite player is Colombian national team goalkeeper David Ospina. “My legs were shaking before they called the names. I thought I wasn’t even going to be able to walk up to the stands.”
He did, however, and now his focus is on returning to Florida and training before heading to LA for the Sueño MLS final in May. It is a scenario that seemed almost impossible not long ago, but one that has come to fruition in large part because of a generous friend and his family.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.