COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Florida-born Brian Loaiza traveled farther than any other participant in the Sueño MLS tryout at Dick's Sporting Goods Park last weekend. His total route since he started playing soccer six years ago is unimaginably longer.
"I was chubby back then," a healthy-looking Loaiza recalled of his 10-year-old body.
He first played with a now-defunct team called the Hornets, later joined Sunrise SC and now plays for former Colorado Rapids right winger Adrian Paz on the FC Florida U-16 squad. Although he plays with American Heritage High School as well, he's currently charting his dream to professional soccer through Deportivo Cali in Colombia. Earning his diploma through the Florida Virtual School gives the midfielder the freedom to grow as a player through international experience.
At 13, Loaiza knew he wanted to rise to the next level and traveled with a few teammates to spend two weeks at Club Atlético River Plate and two weeks at Club Estudiantes de La Plata in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The following year, he spent a full month at Club Atlético Peñarol in Montevideo, Uruguay with Martin Londoño, a teammate who also made the Argentina trip.
"I went to get better," Loaiza explained. "I'm more aggressive now, and my touch is much better. I learned a lot there."
In February of this year, Loaiza got help from another elite coach in Florida, former Colombian national team standout Fernando "Chonto" Herrera. Loaiza made a third trip south of the equator to train with Deportivo Cali. He flew home for a Florida State Cup game and happened to catch the Sueño MLS tryout announcement with his dad, ultimately inking Commerce City on the family calendar. Loaiza returned to Cali for more training before heading to Florida for the flight to Colorado with his father.
Loaiza will return for a week of training at Dick's Sporting Goods Park starting April 29, followed by the trip to Los Angeles for the Sueño MLS 2013 final selection from May 9-12. On the night of May 12, he will face another major fork in the road: return to the southern hemisphere or come to Colorado?