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Q: Why soccer? What’s one of your earliest memories growing up that introduced you to soccer?

A: “I chose soccer because when I used to live on 21st street in San Jose with my grandpa and my dad, and all I remember is sneaking in through a fence at Watson Park and watch my grandpa and dad play and seeing the joy the game brought to them. I wanted to be a part of that and that’s how it all started. I was around 5-6 years old when this happened.”

RCJ_5yr at East Bay Earthquakes

Q: What sport would you have chosen other than soccer?

A: “Baseball. All credit to baseball players but I think it’s less straining on the body, less contact, less physical injuries from others around. It’s easier to take in consideration how to treat your body with that type of sport. Overall, too, it is a financially stable sport.”

Q: What are some fun facts about you that somebody wouldn’t assume about you?

A: “I like to go go-kart racing a lot, along with going to Viewpoints Park and listen to music in the evenings and vibe out. I like to settle in, take the whole day and reflect on it to prepare for the next day. Last one is I love to cook. I’m Chef Rudy outside the field.”

RCJ_20yr at WestValleyCC

Q: What are some valuable life lessons you have gained through the sport of soccer throughout your journey?

A: “After getting injured three times in one year back in 2016, I realized there is more to life than soccer and that the game only lasts for 120 minutes at the most. I took some time off after receiving those injuries, and it took that experience to know what I wanted. I began to go in different paths and hang out with the wrong people, and I then realized this is not what I want to do. I want to be a good role model for my younger brothers. That experience helped me change my mindset. This helped me pursue junior college, later transferring to SJSU (San Jose State University) and eventually leading me to the Earthquakes. The injuries have put life into perspective.”

RCJ_22yr at SJSU

Q: Are you the oldest and how many siblings do you have?

A: “I am the oldest from my dad’s side and youngest from mom’s side. I have two younger siblings on dad’s side and two older siblings from mom’s side. My dad is a huge influence on me.”

Q: What does Rodolfo the person do when soccer is not taking up your time?

A: “Always trying to get better. Sounds cheesy but my life revolves around getting better for the next day. I could always take my foot off the gas pedal a little bit and be more present with my brother and be a family-oriented guy. I take my brothers everywhere I go so it’s easy to not do anything I’m not supposed to do because they are always around me. For me personally, if they want to come with me and they can’t, then it’s probably not the best thing for the family. That helps me keep a good head on my shoulders and enjoy the moments with family and continuing to be a good role model, hopefully for kids that are going through injuries and show them that if I can do it, they can too.”

Q: What are you doing to get better every day?

A: “A lot of people focus on the physical aspect of the game, but I try to focus on the mental aspect of things. I journal a lot, do some grounding before and after practice taking off my cleats going on the grass to relax and take everything in. I love to read about the brain on the mental health side of things. That has helped me to succeed and turn things around especially after the injuries.

Q: What has your experience been with Earthquakes II and MLS NEXT Pro? What is one of your favorite goals this season?

A: “The experience has been good with a lot of exposure coming from it. It’s opened doors that you thought could not be opened because of the platform that’s been given to us. The organization itself has been good. I enjoy being here every day. It is great to wake up and play in my backyard, hopefully opening doors for the first team to come around.

“One of my most memorable goals was scoring two goals against Real Monarchs when we won 3-1 playing at home. The people that know me know I love to hit free kicks, and even though I’m not going to score all of them I still feel I have a high percentage of scoring. I remember they fouled Max [Arfsten] and I looked at him to give me the ball. I saw the crowd pulling out their phones right before I scored. I later received over 30 text messages of the highlight from different angles that night. I was happy to be able to do it at PayPal Park, in front of my friends, my family, and be able to finally experience that in person, including getting to watch my goal on SportsCenter’s top-10.”