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The Mission native and former University of North Carolina standout, who signed a three-year contract with Generation Adidas, was selected by MLS’ Sporting Kansas City as the 14th pick overall in the first round of the league’s SuperDraft on Jan. 17 at Indianapolis.
The MLS is the first division of U.S. soccer and the professional sports equivalent of the NFL or NBA.
“It was an amazing experience,” said López. “It was exciting and nerve-wracking, but it was really fun. It feels great to finally have a team and to be known as a pro. I couldn't have asked for a better team to go to. I'm so excited and happy to play for them.”
López, a midfielder, was among a select group of the nation’s top soccer talent signed by Generation Adidas a few weeks ago. He and his fellow Generation Adidas teammates were all selected in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft.
As a charter member of MLS and currently coached by former U.S. National Team member and 1990 World Cupper Peter Vermes, Sporting KC will play in its 18th season starting on March 2 against the Philadelphia Union. Vermes has coached the team since 2006. Originally known as the Kansas City Wizards, the club’s name was changed to Sporting KC for the 2011 season.
Sporting KC has participated in two MLS Cups, the league’s championship game, and won the title in 2000 after defeating the Chicago Fire 1-0 at RFK Stadium.
Last season, Sporting KC won the Eastern Conference title with a record of 18-7-9 with 63 points, and reached the conference semifinals.
“I'm really happy that I got drafted by Sporting KC,” said López. “It’s a blessing that I was chosen by them because they are a great team and I know that I will grow as a player with them. I'm just really happy to go to them because they were the team I wanted to play for.”
After the SuperDraft, López traveled to join the U.S. Men’s U-20 National Team for a training camp in Puebla, Mexico in preparation for the upcoming U-20 World Cup qualifiers in February. The U.S. will play against other national teams from the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football, or CONCACAF as it is known, the governing body of soccer in the region.
“The camp was great,” said López. “It was good to get together for a pre-qualifier camp so we can work out the kinks that we have and try to eliminate the issues we have before qualifiers next month. The results were a bit disappointing, but it's a good learning experience that we can use for qualifiers.”
Upon his return from Mexico at mid-week, López traveled to Tucson, Ariz. to begin training camp with his new club.
“I was definitely nervous, but it was a good nervous,” said López. “I just wanted to get the first practice over with and I wanted to meet the team.”
Now that López has achieved one of his dreams and reached the professional soccer ranks, he knows that the real work is about to begin.
“I have to focus on trying to get on the first team and start,” said López. “But hopefully that will happen and then I can work on being Rookie of the Year and then win all the major trophies for our team.”
Part of achieving one of his dreams is not forgetting his roots. He takes great pride in representing the Valley at the highest levels of soccer in the country and on the international stage.
“I love that I'm able to represent the Valley because I’m from here,” said López. “I hopefully represent all the people that have helped me get to where I am now, and that I can open doors for all the younger soccer players and kids to their sports nationally and internationally.”
“Hopefully, I can represent every single person in the Valley,” he concluded. “We need to be represented in a positive manner and be able to show the world that kids, people from the Valley, have what it takes to be a major player in the nation and internationally, in the pro ranks.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.