JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Talk about an eventful first day of tryouts.
From guest appearances to spring showers to the play on the field, it was an action-packed day on Saturday as the New York Red Bulls hosted the first day of their 2014 Sueño MLS tryouts. The day-long event saw 396 entrees from all over the United States and the competition on the field was fierce, as players tried to state their cases by delivering crunching tackles, highlight-reel flicks and impressive goals.
“It was a very good event. It was diverse in talent,” Red Bulls director of youth programs Bob Montgomery told MLSsoccer.com. “We had ages and sizes and a diversity of players from all over the country that have come here for this event. There’s some good talent. We hope we got the best.
“It’s a very difficult thing for the players – it’s also difficult for the coaches – coming together and playing with new people and trying to, in a very short period of time, to try and connect and combine with teammates that change. I think the kids did a great job. Their effort was fantastic.”
The 40-minute games began in the morning and lasted into the early parts of the evening. In between were visits from several guests, including Colombian soccer legend Carlos "El Pibe" Valderrama, New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Santiago Castaño and one of the two 2013 Sueño MLS winners – and Elizabeth, N.J., native – Alexander Soto.
Soto, who has seen a remarkable growth spurt since he won last year’s tournament as a pint-sized, 14-year-old forward, had some media commitments to tend to Saturday. But he also showed up to the Thomas M. Gerrity Athletic Complex to see how some of his friends fared in their pursuit of their dreams.
“All Elizabeth is here,” joked Soto, who also said he had been getting requests from friends for tips and practice sessions in the lead-up to the Red Bulls’ first day of tryouts.
The Red Bulls’ staff was comprised of half a dozen coaches and they watched closely even in the midst of a late-afternoon downpour to determine who would be the 25 hopefuls to make the cut to Sunday’s tryouts, where five field players and one goalkeeper will be selected for the final phase of the competition in Los Angeles.
Those six players will join the 12 others who were selected from tryouts previously held by the LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids.
“We’re looking for players that try to put their stamp on the game,” said Montgomery when asked what it took to make an impression. “They have to be brave, they have to go out and attempt to make things happen. If they hide or are afraid to make the mistake, that’s not a good starting point. They have to move on to a higher level, technique is so important, and tactically [as well].
“Some of the guys are younger and that’s okay. We included a few younger players because we know it’s not about today. It’s about the future.”
Of the final 25 to reach the second part of the Red Bulls’ tryouts, 17 hailed from either New York or New Jersey. Others came from as far as Wisconsin and Florida.
Still, there were words of wisdom shared to all the players throughout the event and Valderrama had a significant message to all the hopefuls regardless of their final outcome in the competition.
“To try again,” said Valderrama on if a player is not selected. “Personally, it happened to me, too. The first time I went to go for a tryout, there were 30 left and I never got the chance. The next year I kept at it and was picked and here I am, so you shouldn’t give up when you’re told no.
“On the contrary, it should strengthen you and you should continue to train with the idea that you can still achieve your dream.”
INVITEES TO DAY 2, NEW YORK
1 Goalkeeper Daniel Har 3/26/99 Weston, Florida
2 Goalkeeper Jacobo Velez 3/31/97 Miami, Florida
3 Goalkeeper Steven Ortiz 9/1/99 Linden, New Jersey
4 Defensive Steven Arroyave 9/29/97 Elizabeth, New Jersey
5 Defensive Andrew Cosman 9/1/98 Lyndhurst, New Jersey
6 Defensive Cristian Martinez 4/15/98 Mine Hill, New Jersey
7 Defensive Adrian Sanchez 1/14/97 Nutley, New Jersey
8 Defensive Joseph Sepulveda 9/1/99 Bayside, New York
9 Defensive Sergio Duran 8/19/97 Racine, Wisconsin
10 Defensive Ronald Yepes 9/7/97 North Bergen, New Jersey
11 Defensive Andy Barrera 7/28/98 Yonkers, New York
12 Offense/Mid Jaime Quiroz 12/24/98 Valley Stream, New York
13 Offense/Mid Martin Dedvukaj 5/1/97 Peekskill, New York
14 Offense/Mid Daniel Reyes-Pacheco 7/23/97 Jamesburg, New Jersey
15 Offense/Mid Carlos Rodriguez 6/6/98 Rockville, Maryland
16 Offense/Mid Gianfranco Castillon 2/28/99 Gaithersburg, Maryland
17 Offense/Mid Freddie Guacamaya 2/17/97 Jersey City, New Jersey
18 Offense/Mid Jefferson Rincon 9/3/98 Newark, New Jersey
19 Offense/Mid Frank Oramas 9/4/99 Jersey City, New Jersey
20 Offense/Mid Christian Licona 4/2/97 Bridgeport, Connecticut
21 Offense/Mid David Torres 1/22/99 Kenilworth, New Jersey
22 Offense/Mid Joseph DeZart 6/6/98 Jackson, New Jersey
23 Offense/Mid Gabriel Soriano 8/20/98 Fredericksburg, Virginia
24 Offense/Mid David Lopez 2/11/97 Bronson, Florida
25 Offense/Mid Jacob Villacres 2/16/98 South Plainfield, New Jersey