Miguel Aguilar is a freshman listed at 5’9’’ and 172 lbs and is quickly becoming the star of USF men’s soccer. Already known as a quick and creative goal scorer, he continues to gain respect from opposing defenders and most importantly, from his teammates.
One senior is accrediting Aguilar’s talent to his levels of saturation of the game of
soccer. “[Aguilar] stays after every practice for ten minutes [to work] on finishing,” says Kevin Orozco, USF’s starting senior defender for the men’s soccer team. “[And he] plays FIFA a lot. [It helps to] re-enact game like situations and get ideas to re-enact on the field.” Aguilar is humble about his FIFA skills, saying that he is not that good at the video game.
Orozco fondly spoke about Aguilar’s intuitive abilities as an individual and, already, as a pace-setting team leader. “ He sets the tempo for our pressure,” Orozco said. “[He] knows how to [decipher] how the other team will play out of the back.”
And according to Orozco, Aguilar’s natural talent for the game is unmatched by many. “He has the ability to blow past the best defenders in the league with speed and skill,” Orozco said. “And he can go one-on-one with the goalie and find the back of the net.”
But certainly Aguilar didn’t foresee playing with USF when he was a kid growing up.
Aguilar, who was born and raised in the city of Juarez in Mexico, began playing soccer from the early age of 5, when a soccer ball was a gift to him from a relative for his birthday.
Early on Aguilar kicked the ball around by himself, learning the basics of dribbling and shooting. When he was 7 years old his friends, who were a couple years older, thought he could play and told him to show up to their teams practice.
His biggest fear, at the time, was that the coach would think he was too young to play. So at his very first practice he told the coach he was 9. However, the fear of his age turned out to be meaningless. The coach thought Aguilar’s size was his real weakness, regardless of his age.
Eventually Aguilar was accepted to the team, where he would play in the dirt field community parks from immediately after school until dark. Four years later, when Aguilar was 11-years-old, his mother Carmen Luz-Astorga decided that it was best to move the family including brother, Andres, Jr., and sister, Claudia, from Juarez to Sacramento, California. The family had relatives in Sacramento and she found work at a restaurant that could also hire Andres.
In Sacramento Aguilar attended Encina High School, a small public school which, according to Aguilar, wasn’t much different from USF in the sense of size and student diversity. “I had friends from Nepal, China, Vietnam, Russia, the Phillipines,” Aguilar said.
While at Encina Aguilar excelled in school, especially in mathematics, but playing soccer
became stressful because his school had a weak soccer program along with a coach that had no idea what he was doing.
Aguilar skipped playing soccer his freshman year to focus on school, but joined the soccer team his sophomore year to find out that the biggest problem was that on a team of 16 players, only 10 could compete because of low grades.
In his junior year, Aguilar and his teammates decided that there was no use in losing players to grades. After a team commitment to maintaining a GPA of 3.4, Aguilar and his teammates made it to the championship.
Though, Encina Head Coach John “Buck” Buckmiller only coached the soccer team to keep it alive, Aguilar lead his teammates to excellence by imitating the drills and exercises that he had learned during his club team’s practices.
In the championship game, Aguilar and his teammates defeated their opponents 2-1 and
accomplished a milestone at Encina High; a school that had not been to the playoffs in eight years.
While soccer with Encina was only during the fall, Aguilar continued to play year round soccer with his club team, Casa Boca.
Again, Aguilar’s friends introduced him to the team and the coach. However, Aguilar knew from the beginning that the price to play on a traveling club team was too much for his family to afford. Generously, Head Coach Tibor Pelle offered Aguilar the chance to play, and promised he would find a way to pay for Aguilar’s expenses, only asking for a commitment to playing hard.
In his second year of club soccer, Aguilar tried out for the 17 and under team while he was only 16. Due to his age and size compared to the rest of the players, Aguilar never thought he was going to make the team.
Yet, soon after the three-day tryout ended, Aguilar was emailed an invitation to be apart of a 25-man practice of which only 20 would make the team.
The other guys at the practice out sized Aguilar by a lot. But rather than give in, Aguilar adopted his practice of 3 things that give him an edge to date: stay unpredictable, stay hungry and pay attention to detail.
Aguilar’s best asset is his speed and creativity. He attributes them both to his knack for causing havoc in an opponent’s defense. Though he is out-sized by many opponents, Aguilar is firm in
his belief that he controls the game. “When you are big, there is only one way you can play,”
Aguilar said. “When you are creative, you can find ways to get around that.”