CHICAGO – It takes a certain amount of dedication and perseverance, not to mention talent, to make it as a professional soccer player, and one young player at the Chicago leg of Sueño MLS offered a unique illustration of the commitment it takes to try to succeed in the game.
Isaac Arellano, from Las Vegas, originally attended the Los Angeles leg of the competition and, although he progressed to the final 25, he was not selected in the top six to advance to the national finals at the end of May.
Lots of players would have accepted that setback and done little about it, but Arellano’s determination to succeed convinced his stepdad Jose Ochoa to give him a second chance at the Chicago event this past weekend. That decision paid off, as the 17-year-old defender impressed the Chicago Fire coaching staff enough to become one of six players – out of 400 participants – to advance from the Chicago tryout to a week-long training camp in LA later this month.
“It was not an easy decision because of economics, but he made an effort that he had a chance to get picked,” Ochoa told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday. “As the coaches said, he was not consistent, they fell in love with him in the first game, but he didn’t show that in the second game.
“Honestly, thanks to God I think it was a good decision because he came back on Monday, got up and went at it again. The road has been bumpy, but he put his boots back on. I always say God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle and you never give up.”
Arellano showed excellent leadership skills throughout the two-day event, constantly talking and encouraging his teammates, as well as good defensive awareness to impress the selectors, who included former Fire players Gonzalo Segares and Logan Pause.
“This was never me, I wasn’t a soccer player, until my stepdad came in my life when I was four and since then it’s been soccer,” said a delighted Arellano. “I don’t see myself as talented, I see myself as a hard worker. I love the sport so much and it’s the only thing I got. Every day I work hard and train, train, train. One thing I will say is that I never give up. Last week I was in Sueño MLS in Los Angeles, I made the top 25 but not the top six. So I got back home and ran at 5 o’clock on Monday morning, went to school, came home and trained all week.”
“That would be priceless,” a proud and excited Ochoa said of his son’s ambition to become a professional soccer player. “That’s what he wants, he chases it every day. We’ve had the discussion, ‘son, what do you want to be when you grow up?’ And he always says ‘I want to be a professional soccer player.’ And I tell him you have to have a backup plan. ‘If I have a backup plan it’s that I believe in myself,’ he said, ‘but if it makes you happy, by the age of 23 or 25, if I’m not signed, I’m joining the Marines.’”
Goalkeeper Eduardo Munoz Diaz, 16, only arrived in the USA from Guadalajara, Mexico last week, but had signed up for the event online ahead of his family’s move to Lafayette, Ind.
“Even if I have to start from zero and I start from a different country, I know I have the mentality to start anew here in a new country in the USA,” Munoz Diaz said after hearing his name called on Sunday by former Mexico goalkeeper Martin Zuniga.
“It means a lot,” he said of his selection to the final six to advance to LA. “I love soccer, I’ve been playing since I was five years old, so it means the world to me. My family, they support me a lot in soccer, they feel proud of me, my uncle, my aunt, my grandma, they are always asking me about soccer. It’s too big the emotion.”