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SOCCER: Jefferson's Osornio will chase MLS Sueño dream in California
Luis Alvaro Osornio got the best phone call of his young life Sunday evening while grocery shopping with his family.
The Thomas Jefferson High School junior received the call that he was selected as one of 18 soccer players from across the nation into the second round of the Sueño MLS presented by Allstate.
“We celebrated in the cereal aisle,” Osornio said. "At first I didn't believe it. I was like, 'wow.' I was in shock for a little bit."
Osornio and the five other players selected will represent the Seattle Sounders FC on a nationally-televised player search on República Deportiva, the popular Univision weekly Spanish-language sports show. Sueño MLS 2012 will chronicle the tryouts of the 18 players in a “reality show within a show” format.
"I already got a haircut," Osornio said with a laugh. "I was interviewed by a couple people from Univision and the local Spanish news in Seattle. I was kind of nervous and happy."
The four-day “Final Event” will be held and taped in Carson, Calif. It will be hosted by MLS Argentine soccer legend Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The finals will include training sessions, scrimmages, guest celebrity scouts and an opportunity to meet some of the MLS's biggest stars. The ultimate champion will be crowned on Sunday, May 13, live on República Deportiva. This is the sixth year of the Sueño MLS program and the first year Sounders FC has participated.
"It's a great opportunity," Osornio said. "I'm nervous. I can't lie about it. I just thank God for this opportunity."
Osornio and the other Seattle finalists, had their stories featured on República Deportiva Sunday after fighting their way past more than 400 competitors in an open tryout to earn a week-long trial with the Sounders FC Academy and the trip to Southern California.
The Seattle finalists will be joined at the "Final Event" by six FC Dallas finalists and six Chivas USA finalists. The two MLS franchises also held Sueño MLS 2012 tryouts last month.
And even if Osornio doesn't win the Sueño competition, the event will still allow plenty of eyes to see his soccer game.
"There's going to be academy coaches there and college coaches from everywhere in the nation," Osornio said. "It's a great step. My dream is to become a pro soccer player."
The 17-year-old Osornio was born in Mexico near Guadalajara and came to Federal Way as a 12-year-old with his parents. His older sister and brother are still in Mexico.
"I found out about the Sueño thing the day before," Osornio said. "My mom told me that she saw it on the local news in Spanish. I didn't know it was going to be in Seattle."
Osornio was supposed to work during the first day of tryouts on April 21, but told his mom that he wasn't going to go, which was a good move in the end. Osornio quickly stood out, catching the eye of the Seattle Sounders’ player development staff, particularly that of Youth Director Darren Sawatzky, who is a former soccer player and coach for the Raiders. Sawatzky coached TJ to the school's last state title in 2007.
“The number one word we all talked about was ‘potential,’” Sawatzky explained. “You look at players and you quickly notice their desire to accomplish their dream. The step between being a youth player and a pro player is substantial, and I think despite the fact of his hurt knee, Luis showed us some of these qualities.”
During the tryout, Osornio, who has six goals and six assists for the 10-2-1 seventh-ranked Raiders this season, admitted to playing through the pain. The Sueño MLS Seattle tryouts were held April 21-22 at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
“I had an injured knee throughout the tryout but I knew I couldn’t give up because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Osornio said. “This is my dream and nothing is going to stop me. I want to keep going as far as I can and hope that one day in the near future, I can become a professional soccer player.”
Born just one year before MLS’s inaugural season, Osornio’s desire and dream of one day stepping on the pitch as a pro goes back as far as he can remember.
“Ever since I was a little boy, I always had a ball at my feet,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “So these last few days have been a big inspiration as far as one day reaching my dream of playing for a pro team, a dream that has become a bit of an obsession for me.”
Approximately 400 youth players between the ages of 14 and 18 showed up to Starfire for the Sueño tryout.
The players were put through a rapid process to determine who advanced to the national final. On the first day, the players were reduced to a group of around 30, which came back for the second day.
For now, Osornio is just grateful for the chance to take part, particularly meeting Sounders players Fredy Montero and Josh Ford.
“Our talks with Josh Ford and Fredy Montero were very inspiring because at one point they were like us,” Osornio said. “They were aspiring young soccer players chasing a dream."
The other Sueño finalists from the Seattle tryout include Jose Ramos, 15, from Tacoma; Ivan Marmolego, 17, from Orondo, Wash.; Giovanny Soto, 15, from Wenatchee; Herbert Cojulun, 17, from Casey, S.C.; and Hector Palos, 17, from Philadelphia.