For Arturo Ernand, being named a finalist for Sueño MLS 2016 was a dream a year in the making.
A 15-year-old central midfielder from Miami, Ernand advanced out of the Orlando tryout to qualify for the finals of the national talent competition in 2015, but was limited in the finals due to an injury.
One day before he was scheduled to fly to Southern California last year, Ernand fell asleep while icing his hamstring. The cold compress damaged his leg overnight, and Ernand couldn’t make it through the final round, removing himself just 15 minutes into the second scrimmage in L.A.
“I was really sad. Angry, really angry when I had to come out, when I fell to the ground and I had to call for a sub,” he told MLSsoccer.com over the weekend. “It was almost to the point where I was crying on the bench. I went to my parents and they asked me what was wrong and I just looked at them and I just shook my head and said I couldn’t go on. It was just a really disappointing moment.”
The unfortunate end to his 2015 Sueño MLS campaign motivated Ernand coming into this year. As soon as he found out he’d meet the age-cutoff for the 2016 competition, he planned on signing up.
The only problem? The closest opening round tryout to Miami was in New York, necessitating a plane ticket – and some extra money saved by his parents – in order to get him to the competition.
Ernand made it to New York, advancing out of the Red Bulls-hosted tryout in Queens to qualify for the finals in L.A. before being named one of three finalists for the Sueño MLS 2016 award on Sunday.
A versatile central midfielder capable of playing as a holding mid or an attacker, Ernand impressed in L.A. earlier this month, notching an assist in the Sueño MLS team’s win over an LA Galaxy-affiliated side at StubHub Center.
He wasn’t aware at the time, but he did it all with a somewhat significant injury, too. Ernand sprained the ligaments in his ankle during the tryout in New York, but pushed through the finals in L.A., not even getting a diagnosis until he returned to Miami following the finals.
Compared to last year, Ernand’s ankle injury is nothing. It wasn’t serious enough to keep him off the field in the finals, allowing him to show his stuff in front of Sueño MLS coaches and scouts at StubHub Center. Now he has a shot at the Sueño MLS title – and the invite to join an MLS academy that comes with it.
“With Sueño, the trophy, winning that would be nice, but that’s not really why I went to Sueño,” he said. “I went to Sueño for coaches and people out there, scouts to see me, to find out who I am. My ultimate goal is to be a professional, I really want to play at the highest level and hopefully the exposure of Sueño MLS can help me get into a club.”