Josue Soto is a nineteen year old Mexican-American soccer player from Riverside California. After his freshmen year at a D2 school, Soto earned a trial with Queretaro through a SoccerViza combine. Since then, he’s earned a contract, played with the reserve team, and scrimmaged with the first team. After taking such a unique path to where he is now, Soto recounts how his journey unfolded.
You were a part of Sueño MLS, which I don’t know a ton about. Can you elaborate on how you got connected with it?
I got involved in Sueño MLS through my mom. She signed me up one day because she heard about it on the radio and we had watched it the prior year on TV. It was held in Los Angeles through LA Galaxy. I went to a tryout to go into more tryouts with 400+ kids. Out of those 400+ kids, they chose thirty kids to continue trying out. Then they narrowed the thirty kids down to six to go on and chase our dream. The six of us went on to practice with the Galaxy Academy. After that the six were narrowed down to two winners. I didn’t make it to the final two, but I got a lot out of the process. I got contacts, a lot of experience, and publicity. Every soccer experience I’ve had has helped me get to where I am today, regardless of whether or not I was a winner.
It’s rare for a professional player to play for a D2 school. How come you didn’t end up at a D1 school?
People had always told me I had the ability to play in college, but I waited until the last minute to start my recruiting process. I had asked around and got connected to CBU through a friend who played soccer there. CBU was one of my first offers and presented me the most amount of money, so I accepted. After I had signed with CBU, D1 schools such as UCR and SDSU became interested in me and wanted me to play for them, but I had already committed to CBU. Although I was playing at a D2 level, I still wasn’t satisfied because my dream of playing professionally was still in the back of my head.
After playing your just one season for CBU, what made you want to go to a Soccer Viza combine? Typically players wait until they’ve graduated to try to become professionals so what made your situation different?
I came to the realization that time was running out, and if I was going to play professionally, I needed to act now. I learned from my older teammates that playing professionally wasn’t guaranteed at an older age.
You were offered a trial with Queretaro, which turned into a pre-season invite, which developed into a contract. Was signing a contract a bit of a surprise or did you feel like you were quality enough to get an offer?
After the Soccer Viza Combine, Queretaro invited me to a week-long tryout. As soon as that ended, they told me that they really liked my characteristics on and off the field, and that they would be in contact with me. I was very confident about my tryout for Queretaro, more confident than any tryout I had done before.
You’ve had some positional changes, going from striker to leftback. How has this changed your view on the game as a player And how easy was the switch in positions?
Ideally, I don’t want to be playing leftback because I love scoring goals. But at this level, I’m going to take whatever I can get. I found it funny that when I first started playing soccer my first position was as a leftback and now I’m back in the same position. The switch in positions was smooth because I’ve always been open to trying new things. I enjoy playing different positions because I get to learn more about the game. The more I learn, the more opportunities I can be presented with.
Going from inside the American soccer landscape to a Mexican club, what are some different aspects of emphasis?
In college my teammates were more relaxed about playing because they knew no matter what they were going to get playing time. But in Mexico, if you don’t work your hardest everyday then you won’t get to travel or won’t get playing time. Back home the style of play was very straightforward. But in Mexico, it’s about building up to play and then attacking.
How has it been fitting in with the team at Queretaro? What are the players, coaches like?
The transition was tough for me at first. There were a lot of changes like making new friends, being in a new environment, and learning a new style of play. The players were very welcoming and are really motivated. They push me to work harder every day. The coaches are very driven and straightforward. I’ve only been here a couple of months and they’ve already taught me so much.
Being a dual citizen, I have to ask, who did you root for in the Mexico-USA Confederations Cup game?
Even though I’m a dual citizen I had to root for the US because I was born and raised there and I’m aspiring to play on their National Team one day.