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Esteban Rodriguez

U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team
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Rodriguez Ready to Shine on the CONCACAF Stage

Growing up, Esteban Rodriguez was an active kid. He liked to skateboard and run around with friends as most kids do in sunny Southern California.

But his dad had other plans for his son, who friends and teammates call “Stevie,” and signed him up for soccer.

“I was in soccer just for fun,” the Palmdale, Calif.-native said. “When I was little I was into skating, and my dad signed me up for soccer. I wasn’t very good, but when I scored my first goal it motivated me to keep going and get better and better every day.”

Just a short couple of years after his dad signed him up, the slight midfielder found himself in love with the beautiful game.

Fast forward to 2009, when Rodriguez was playing for LAFC in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Having been exposed to better training and more competitive games within the program, he was beginning to show his potential.

“[The Development Academy] was really different. It was tough. There were a lot of good players and all the games were really hard. It made me more alert, more focused,” he said.

U.S. Soccer scouts had been keeping a keen eye on Rodriguez, and he was chosen to play in a Select Team game at the 2009 Academy Winter Showcase. Select Teams are chosen by U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors and the national scouting network, and are made up of the best players in the Academy program.

In that game, Rodriguez shone.

Weeks later, he moved across the country to Bradenton, Fla., after accepting his call to the U.S. Soccer Under-17 Residency Program.

A year and a half after beginning his journey with the U-17 MNT, Rodriguez now finds himself in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Rodriguez scored in the 50th minute to help the USA to a 3-1 victory against Cuba in their first game of the tournament and the team is now looking forward to their next match against Panama. With four teams from this event qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, he understands both the responsibility and sense of pride that comes with wearing the U.S. uniform.

“It feels good,” Rodriguez said. “I’m proud to represent my country. I get nervous about representing a lot of people but it’s great. It’s a dream come true. I wasn’t even thinking I’d have a chance to make this team in the first place. Hard work pays off and I’m so glad to be here.”

This year could be an important one in Rodriguez’s career if he and his teammates accomplish what they out to do: earn a place at the World Cup. If the past is any indication of what’s to come, the future is bright for Rodriquez and his teammates.

 

2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship: Was the only U.S. player to have played every minute of all five games en route to the CONCACAF title … Scored the third goal in the 3-1 win against Cuba in the group stage of the tournament … 2011: Leads the team in minutes with 881 entering the World Cup … Also leads the team in starts with nine and is tied for the most appearances with 10 … Scored the first goal in a 2-1 win against Jamaica in a CONCACAF Championship tuneup match on Jan. 30 … Is third on the team in career caps with 21 international games played … 2010: Played in 11 international games for the U.S., starting nine … Was among team leaders in minutes played with 675 … Scored the first U.S. goal in a 2-3 loss to Colombia on Aug. 10 in Bogota … Also scored against Spain in Madrid on Sept. 16 … Before Residency: Has been part of the youth national team programs since the U-14 Boys’ National Team … Also part of the U-15 BNT … Plays for Cosmos Academy West (previously known as LAFC), part of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy … Personal: Dad is from Mexico and Mom is from Argentina … Is one of three brothers who all play soccer … Favorite player is Lionel Messi and favorite team is Barcelona … Favorite trip he’s ever been on was to Madrid … Loves Chinese food

Campeonato Sub-17 de la CONCACAF 2011: Fue el único jugador de EE.UU. que jugó cada minuto de los cinco partidos en el camino al título de la CONCACAF … Marcó el tercer gol en la victoria por 3-1 contra Cuba en la fase de grupos del torneo … 2011: Es el líder del equipo en minutos con 881 al entrar a la Copa Mundial … También es el líder del equipo en partidos desde el inicio con nueve y está empatado en el que tiene más apariciones con 10 … Marcó el primer gol en una victoria de 2-1 contra Jamaica en un partido de preparación para el Campeonato de la CONCACAF el 30 de enero … Es tercero en el equipo en apariciones de la carrera con 21 partidos internacionales … 2010: Jugó en 11 partidos internacionales para los EE.UU., nueve desde el inicio … Se cuenta entre los líderes en minutos jugados con 675 … Marcó el primer gol de EE.UU. en una derrota de 2-3 a Colombia el 10 de agosto en Bogotá … También marcó contra España en Madrid el 16 de septiembre … Antes del programa de residentes: Ha sido parte de los programas juveniles desde la selección Sub-14 … También formó parte de la SM Sub-15 … Juega para Cosmos Academy West (antes conocido como LAFC), parte de la Academia de Desarrollo … Personal: Papá es de México y mamá es de Argentina … Es uno de tres hermanos que juegan al futbol … Jugador favorito es Lionel Messi y equipo favorito es Barcelona … Viaje favorito fue a Madrid … Ama la comida china

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