SAN DIEGO — Millions of children play youth soccer, but only a few, if any, turn professional at the age of sixteen. In this Zevely Zone, I met a San Diego soccer star.
"I have been playing soccer since I was four years old," said Misael Mendoza. He recently signed his first professional contract with ALBION San Diego. "That's right," said Misael who admitted his hand was shaking when he signed the contract. "Yeah, a little bit, first contract ever. I am feeling pretty good, being the first homegrown 16-year-old to sign a professional contract with Albion San Diego," said Misael.
"I would like first of all to thank God for the opportunity he has given me. I would like to thank my parents, my family members, my friends, especially those who believed in me, Noah, Ziggy, Andre for believing in me." Misael will skip high school and college soccer to play professionally for ALBION San Diego.
ALBION San Diego is a professional soccer club based in San Diego. The team competes in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), a USSF professionally sanctioned league ranking at the 3rd division of the US Soccer pro pyramid. "We found a rising star for sure," said Noah Gins, CEO of the ALBION soccer club. "He is an attacking player, he is creative, he's confident," said Noah who told us it is rare to sign a 16-year-old to a professional contract? "It's rare in the United States, it's rare in the world," said Noah.
Noah himself played professionally against some of the best goal keepers in the game. "Yeah, I played against legends, Brad Friedel, and Kasey Keller," said Noah. I asked him if he ever faced off against the goalkeeper Jeff Zevely? "Never heard of him," laughed Noah. That gave me an opportunity to show Noah pictures from my youth soccer career at the Leucadia Soccer Club. "It that you? Look at you," said Noah. "That looks like a player I would recruit. You got a wingspan for sure."
In 1983, the youth soccer league made me wear a helmet for my own protection. "Oh, my goodness you have a helmet on. It looks like a pumpkin," laughed Noah.
As for Misael, he is a great scorer. I was a great goalie. I asked him how we should resolve our predicament. "Penalty kicks?" suggested Misael. I then announced, no one had scored on me in 40 years. "I am pretty sure you haven't played a game in 40 years," said Noah (which is true).
We decided Misael would take five shots on me; winner take all. Talk about pressure!
Misael had to perform in front of a TV crew, his general manager, his dad and mom. Ivone and Misael Senior say their son was built for this. "Do you think he can score against me?" I asked? "Yeah. Ha, ha, ha," laughed his mom. "No doubt about it," said his dad.
Even though I squeezed on my tiny soccer jersey from 1982 for the soccer showdown, Misael easily won the competition 4-1. Misael is a fitting name for this teen, because when the ball leaves his foot it's as fast as a missile. "Well done, that was awesome, you are going to have a great career, good luck to you," I said in defeat.
This kid doesn't need any advice, in fact he's the one who should be giving it out. "Maybe get a bigger shirt?" laughed Misael.
In providing a professional pathway to over 10,000 ALBION youth, spread out across 15+ Affiliate clubs around the United States, ALBION San Diego intends to move up the professional ladder and provide pathways for top players looking to develop and be transferred to higher levels of professional soccer, both domestically and internationally.
Misael has played for ALBION since he was 10 years old. He once score nine goals in one game. If you'd like to watch him play for ALBION San Diego, the team has 25 games this year. Please click here for more information.
Watch more Zevely Zone content below: