First weekend of Sueño MLS yields 10 finalists

Of the 10 players, one forward stands out from the rest

The Spanish word for dream is sueño. This past weekend, 400
kids showed up at Houston’s USA Park with one dream in mind: to earn the
opportunity to pursue a career as a professional soccer player.

Sueño MLS 2010 kicked off this weekend with tryouts in
Houston, the first of three cities. Beginning on April 18, portions of the
tryouts will air on the popular Univision Spanish-language sports show
República Deportiva, with the winner earning a spot in an MLS developmental
academy.

Ranging in age from 14 to 18, participants came from as far
as Florida and Maryland for a chance to impress coaches from the Dynamo
Academy.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” said John DeWitt, an
assistant coach with the Dynamo Academy.
“When you have an open tryout like this, you get kids who range from
very good to not-so-good.”

One player that DeWitt spoke highly of was Eric Martinez, a
freshman at Spring Dekaney High School, just north of Houston. By the end of
the first two days of tryouts, Martinez was one of the 10 finalists who earned
the opportunity to train this coming week with the Dynamo Academy. At the end
of the week, five players will be chosen to compete in the Sueño MLS finals in
Los Angeles.

“Eric is a dynamic, confident player,” DeWitt said. “He has the type of personality we are
looking for on the field. He is not afraid to take players on, and he makes
something happen every time he has the ball.”

Last year, Martinez was selected for the Olympic
Developmental Program, but did not have the financial resources to participate.
He was selected again this year and will travel to Alabama this summer to
participate in the ODP Region III camp. Martinez believed his ODP tryouts gave
him more confidence heading into this weekend.

Martinez hopes to follow in the footsteps of Jorge Flores
and Gabriel Funes, previous winners of Sueño MLS. Flores, the 2007 winner, is
now a member of Chivas USA’s senior roster and competed for the United States
U-20 national team at last year's FIFA U-20 World Cup. Funes, the 2008 winner,
currently plays for the Argentine first-division club River Plate.

One man with particular interest in the tryouts was
Francisco Navas Cobo, a recently signed midfielder for the Houston Dynamo.
Although Navas Cobo played much of his youth soccer in Colombia, he returned to
Houston seven months ago to join the Dynamo Academy, which helped him catch the
eye of Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear and eventually earn a first-team
contract last month.

“I had the opportunity to speak with the [Sueño MLS] players
yesterday and again today,” Navas Cobo said. 
“I told them if they want to achieve their goals, they have to work hard
and train every day.”

Sueño MLS –
Houston Finalists

Nelson Castro (Houston): 14-year-old central defender

Carlos Castillo (Brownsville, Texas): 15-year-old left midfielder

Juan Contreras (Dickinson, Texas): 16-year-old left midfielder

Jesus Cruz (Dallas): 15-year-old left defender

Ronald Garcia (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.): 17-year-old forward

Anthony Hall (Dallas): 15-year-old goalkeeper

Eric Martinez (Houston): 15-year-old forward

Marco Ortiz (Crowley, Texas): 15-year-old center midfielder

Everardo Reyes (Houston): 15-year-old central defender

Lorenzo Salazar (Houston): 15-year-old center midfielder