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SOCCER

Vasquez earns shot at new contract with Rising FC

By - Oct 24, 2017

 By Christopher Gleason / For The Sporting Nation

Photos courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Victor Vasquez does the same thing before every home game. He gets his hair cut, buys chicken noodle soup from Sprouts and eats it in the comfort of his own home while watching TV.

It’s a simple pregame routine for a man with so much to play for. Vasquez just finished his first season of professional soccer, hoping to live out the dream his father and uncle never could.   

Vasquez’s soccer story starts at a little park by his house in Anaheim, California. As a young boy he would ride his bike there to watch an academy team practice, which seemed to draw on his innate passion for the sport.

“I used to just ride my bike and watch them practice,” Vasquez said. “Finally, I asked the coach ‘Hey can I get a shot?’ and I got a shot. He really liked how I played so I just kept playing every day there and that’s how I started getting into soccer.”

Vasquez says the academy was run by two guys who played professionally in Mexico and credits them for helping develop his game from a young age.

However, nothing has had more of an impact on his soccer life than his own family.

“Growing up I’ve always played with my cousins,” Vasquez said. “We would play in Mexico on the streets nonstop from sunrise to sunset. They had to yell at us to stop playing soccer.”

Furthermore, Vasquez has benefited from the wisdom of his father, who played in his younger years with the goal of going pro.

“My dad supports me throughout my whole career,” Vasquez said. “He’s been there day in and day out."

Vasquez’s father never got the chance to go pro, as his family used its limited funds to send his uncle to play second division in Mexico.

“My dad, unfortunately he didn’t get to play, he wasn’t as good as my uncle I guess you could say,” Vasquez says with a chuckle.   

His uncle never got far though, as he was injured early in his career and was forced to come home, never realizing the dream of a career playing soccer.

That makes Vasquez the only one in his family with a chance to live out that dream, something he says serves as constant motivation.

“You could say I’m pretty much living their dream through me,” Vasquez said. “That’s what gets me going every day too, thinking ‘Hey, I got to play good’ because everyone’s supporting me.”

The support goes beyond cheering him on, as his cousins almost serve as his coaches outside the team.

“They’re always watching the games letting me know what I could do better,” Vasquez said. “They’re actually putting in 110 percent, too.”

The extra guidance seems to have benefited the 24-year-old rookie, and those around him have noticed the progression throughout his first pro season.

Vasquez played college soccer at Cal-State Northridge, and last year in the Premier Development League. He signed with Phoenix Rising last December and made 25 regular-season starts.

 “Obviously he’s a bit rough around the edges, but aren’t they all when they’re at that age,” said fellow starting defender Peter Ramage, “but he’s improved a heck of a lot since Day 1. He’s a willing learner, he wants to listen, he works hard and I personally think he’s got a bright future ahead of him.

It appears Vasquez made himself a more well-rounded player throughout the year too, having an impact on both ends of the field.

“Offensively he has been progressing a lot in the quality of his crosses,” head coach Patrice Carteron said before Rising's season ended in the first round of the USL playoffs last weekend. “He had a problem [giving good balls] and now all his crosses are quite perfect.”

With his contract expiring at the end of November, it’s unclear how much longer Vasquez will be in the valley before moving on to the next chapter of his pro career. He was a regular on a club that made Arizona soccer history by selling out so many games and making the postseason, and his play likely earned him strong consideration from the front office to be re-signed.

What is clear is the lasting impression he’s made, at least on his first pro head coach.

“I do appreciate him of course as a football player but I think I do appreciate him as much as a man because he’s a fantastic boy,” Carteron said. “Always smiling, always a hard worker, it’s really someone I’m happy to know and I’m really proud that we have that kind of player in Phoenix Rising.”

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