Los Angeles Soccer: Felix Fernandez
CARSON -- Armando Flores' ability to read the game, to have a plan before the ball gets to him, impressed the big names watching over the “Sueño MLS” finals this week at Home Depot Center.
Jimmy Camacho's personality, and how he uses it to guide his defenders, also stood out.
They were the last standing Sunday morning at Home Depot Center, both earning a one-year stint in Chivas USA's academy program after winning Major League Soccer's televised talent search.
Flores, a 17-year-old forward from Santa Ana, was chosen as the “Sueño” winner over 14 other field players selected through tryouts run by the Goats, FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders. Camacho, 16, from Riverside, finished ahead of two competitors for the accompanying goalkeeper honor.
Flores is the third Chivas USA entrant to win the seventh-year “reality show,” which progresses in segments on Univision's “Republica Deportivo,” which broadcast the announcement from the entrance plaza at HDC, following in the footsteps of midfielder/defender Jorge Villafaña (2007), who is with the Goats' first team, and midfielder Briant Reyes (2008).
Flores, a two-time All-CIF Southern Section selection at Santa Ana Valley High School who plays for Mission Viejo Soccer Club, celebrated with his family afterward and dedicated the honor to his mother, Francisca.
“She's always been here for me when I needed her,” he said. “Everytime I came home, she wouldn't always see me because she'd be working. It was hard watching here work two jobs and only seeing her 30 minutes because she had to go to another work, but she was always there for me, and really thank her, becaiuse she took care of me good, and I love her, you know?”
Mom was ecstatic, too: “I'm so happy my son accomplished something he has always dreamed about. ... This is the best gift I've received in all my years.”
Flores steps into the Chivas Academy on Monday, the start of what he hopes will be a trek toward soccer stardom. So does Camacho, whose magnetic personality stood out at the Goats' tryouts two weeks ago in Bell Gardens and again the past week.
“This is just the first step,” said Camacho, who has starred at Citrus Hill High School and for Arsenal FC in Alta Loma and Laguna Hills Soccer Club. “There's keepers at the Chivas Academy, there's keepers everywhere, and they're going to try just as hard as me. I've just got to work hard, stay humble and keep going. This is just the first step.”