As a Coast Union High School freshman soccer player in 2017, Salvador Aguilar scored 18 goals — including a hat trick leading his team to a 3-2 win over Atascadero High School — and made a very positive impression on his teammates and head coach, Omar Catalan.
But Aguilar won’t be on the Bronco soccer team in 2018.
That’s because last season Aguilar showed the speed, maturity, athleticism and scoring skills necessary to get the attention of Major League Soccer (MLS).
Shortly thereafter, he was invited to try out with MLS Academies, where talented young players launch professional careers. And after trying out with four MLS Academy teams (and getting four offers to sign), he chose the San Jose Earthquakes. At the age of 15, he is living in San Jose, taking independent studies courses (to get his GED) and pursuing his dream of playing professional soccer. as a member of the Earthquakes’ U-17 academy team.
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Aguilar said he chose the Earthquakes in a phone interview in August because it’s “… closer to home,” and he can come back to Cambria on some weekends to be with his family.
He began playing soccer as a 4 year old, and when he was 8, he knew he wanted to play professional soccer. Prior to Coast Union, he played at a high level with several club soccer teams (including Paso Robles).
“Once you’re on an academy team, it’s how hard you work and how much you improve,” he said.
Talented players as young as 14 are technically eligible to play in the MLS.
“I’m super motivated,” he said, adding that he will miss Cambria “a lot.”
“This was a tough decision, you know,” he said. “But I’ve learned over the years you have to make sacrifices to get what you want. And I want to reach the highest level of soccer I can get.”
Catalan believes Aguilar is the first player from Coast Union to be signed by an MLS academy.
“That kid is something special,” Catalan said. “He is a very humble kid and was always willing to work, always wanting to be better. On a scale of one to 10, I give him a solid nine. In a few years, he’ll be 20 out of ten.”
After Aguilar scored three goals against Atascadero — and six Bronco goals in the Cats and Hounds Tournament last high school season — Catalan was asked (in a 2017 interview) if he was surprised by Aguilar’s explosive performance against much larger schools.
“No, I expect him to have a big impact on this team, and that’s what he did,” he said.
If Aguilar passes muster with the Earthquakes Academy, which he expects to do, in a short period of time he could be making an impact with the MLS club.
“With all the hard work I have put in to get to this point, I have to keep my feet on the ground,” he said.