San Jose Earthquakes Youth Academy player Angel Heredia is a member of the U.S. U17 Residency Program. The San Jose native recently returned from his first overseas experience with the squad in Spain and France. On the trip, Heredia scored one goal and notched two assists, and captained the team for two matches against Peru and Holland.
San Jose Earthquakes: To start us off, can you give us a rundown of your trip overseas?
Angel Heredia: It was really exciting when I found out I would be going on the trip. We had to leave the day after I got the call and I had to hurry up and pack. I was really excited to play those four games against other great international teams, such as Spain, Holland, Peru, and Russia. We did well in Spain, and then we had a tournament in France a couple days later so we had to prepare ourselves and help our bodies recover from all those tough matches. I was exhausted on the way back home, but it was a great trip.
SJEQ: How many games did you play while you were there?
AH: In Spain we played four games and in France we played three. I played in five of the seven games.
SJEQ: Was this your first time playing overseas?
AH: Yeah, this was my first time playing overseas, and anywhere out of the United States. It was awesome.
SJEQ: What was it like getting that first stamp on the passport?
AH: It felt good knowing I was going to have this experience and to get away from the United States and see different cultures.
SJEQ: Did you have time to do any sightseeing?
AH: Oh yeah, we had our days off. In France we had a boat trip around the city and in Spain we had the opportunity to walk around and see different things.
SJEQ: Did you watch any soccer while you were there?
AH: We watched a Spain qualifying match played at Hercules and that was amazing. The fans were great. And the day before we left we watched Barcelona play. It wasn’t the first team, but they play exactly like them so that was awesome.
SJEQ: What was it like playing against big-time teams such as the Netherlands, Spain, Russia and France?
AH: It was so surreal. I couldn’t believe that I was representing the United States. It felt great.
SJEQ: Where were you playing on the field?
AH: Most of the games I was playing as a defensive midfielder, but against Holland I played as an attacking midfielder. I prefer attacking mid so I can score some goals.
SJEQ: You scored a goal while you were there, congratulations. Can you give a play-by-play of the goal?
AH: Yeah, thanks. My goal against Spain started in the back. We sent a long ball to the left forward and he went down the line and crossed it low and one of our players stopped it. I was running in the box and he laid it off to me and I finished it.
SJEQ: Not including your goal, what was your favorite moment from the trip?
AH: My favorite moment of the trip… that is a tough one. Every time we would win was great. After the games we were all really happy and getting to celebrate with the team was awesome.
SJEQ: Were your teammates asking you for help translating in Spain since you speak Spanish?
AH: A good majority of us speak Spanish, but when we were in France it was a whole different story. We only had two players who knew and understood French. One time we went to a restaurant and I asked my friend what one of the menu items meant and he told me it was chicken with hot sauce on it. The sauce was supposedly the hottest sauce the restaurant had. That was a bad idea.
SJEQ: You’re playing with the best players in the country in your age level. Which of your teammates have you been most impressed by?
AH: Everyone has so much talent. From the group that we had traveling to Europe there was a lot of great players that stood out from everyone else. You could tell from the way they played that their level of play is above everyone else.
SJEQ: How do you like the residency experience so far?
AH: It’s going well and I really enjoy it now. The first couple weeks were very difficult because it is a whole different setting but now I’m getting really used to it and I enjoy it.
SJEQ: How has your experience helped you in your soccer dreams?
AH: This is only the beginning of everything I could wish I could be. I take every moment and use it to my advantage. I had a really great time on this trip and this is only one of many trips we will take.