COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – When the final 28 players concluded their Sueño MLS tryout at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Sunday, Rapids youth academy senior director Brian Crookham told the aspiring youngsters, "Your job today was to make our job as hard as possible, and you excelled."
Within an hour of Crookham's speech to the group, the players sat before a live television audience and heard the names of six players chosen for the final selection in Los Angeles on May 9-12. Those players were Daniel Ontiveros, Brayan Arreola, Erik Barragan, Juan Hernandez, Brian Loaiza and Miguel Jaime.
Goalkeeper Ontiveros was listed right after Shane O'Neill on Topdrawersoccer.com, assuming people knew about him. If he outperforms Luis Aranzazu from the D.C. United tryout and the final netminder from the Los Angeles tryout next weekend, he'll win the Allstate “Good Hands®” top goalkeeper award - El Portero Allstate."
Ontiveros plays for the Longmont United Soccer Academy north of Denver and Adams City High School in Commerce City, which at 1.9 miles away makes it the closest school to the Dick's Sporting Goods Park complex. In 2010, Ontiveros helped Chivas Guadalajara of Denver win the State Cup, and he minded the net for the Colorado Rapids U-16 State Cup champion team in 2011.
Arreola also plays for Adams City High School, but Tigres UANL is his club team. A midfielder with solid skills, Arreola moved from Mexico when he was five years old. He had to work during the last Rapids Academy tryouts and is thankful for a chance to train with the team (and miss a little school when he heads to the Sueño MLS finale).
Barragan helped Hernandez answer questions after the announcement, working like teammates that have been together for years. But they only met that morning. A defender, Barragan was one of six guys who drove from Garden City, Kansas for the tryout. He plays for GC Manchester and will be a sophomore at Garden City High School. At 14, he took his first shot at Sueño MLS in Los Angeles last year.
Hernandez, now 14, strained his left hamstring a week ago but worked through the pain for two days of tryouts. Playing for Poudre High School in Fort Collins and the Bootleggers in Greeley, Hernandez says Cristiano Ronaldo is his favorite player and considers teamwork to be the best part of the game. He didn't really need much help with translation, but working with his teammate seemed natural to him.
Loaiza lists Royal Palm Beach, Florida as his hometown, but Deportivo Cali in Colombia has been his home since February. The defensive midfielder completes his studies online through the Florida Virtual School while gaining great experience abroad. On a return trip for the Florida State Cup with FC Florida, Loaiza first heard about this year's tryout while watching Carlos Valderrama's invitation with his dad. They jumped online immediately, but the D.C. United event was already full so they preregistered right away and booked a flight to Colorado.
Jaime's recent honors include Denver Post/Max Preps Colorado Player of the Year, Gatorade Player of the Year and NSCAA All-American selection following his junior season at Cherry Creek High School in 2012. He scored 16 goals during his high school season, and he also plays for the Colorado Rush Soccer Club.
The 17-year-old from nearby Glendale meshed with teammates and kept possession on Sunday. He got the strawberry of the final tryout when he slid about 10 feet to save a ball from going out. For him, it was a small sacrifice for a much larger dream in Los Angeles in the second weekend in May.