FRISCO - At the start of the 2019 season, the U-20 World Cup didn’t even cross Homegrown midfielder Edwin Cerrillo’s mind. He was too focused on improving his game and fighting for a place in the FC Dallas first team just two weeks into his pro career.
Signed as the club’s 24th Homegrown player, and the first under head coach Luchi Gonzalez, Cerrillo was taking his career one opportunity at a time. When he joined the FCD academy in 2015, he was just a kid from Waco, Texas trying to make a name for himself. Fast forward four years, and Cerrillo scored 12 goals in 71 Development Academy matches before signing as a pro.
His impressive and consistent performances at the Academy level earned him a pro contract with the team that took a chance on him.
“It’s definitely special — a moment that, growing up as a soccer player, from a little kid you dream of signing your first contract,” Cerrillo said after he signed his Homegrown deal on February 14. “And, a day like today, having my parents here, supporting me and making all the sacrifices for me to be here is just amazing.”
Since appearing in his first MLS match on March 9, Cerrillo has racked up 592 minutes and seven starts with one assist for FC Dallas. It was enough to get US U-20 Head Coach Tab Ramos’ attention. A few weeks ago, Ramos contacted Cerrillo through a text message about the opportunity for the latter to represent the United States at the U-20 World Cup this summer. Then, on May 10, Cerrillo was named on the U-20 roster announced by US Soccer.
Back when Cerrillo signed his homegrown contract, Gonzalez mentioned how he wasn’t like any other player who had come up in the Academy because he never got the opportunity to showcase his skills abroad.
“Edwin’s a special signing because Edwin is not a player that was always called into the national team,” Gonzalez said. “He wasn’t always the starter, but his mentality has always been to grow and learn — and compete and fight for a roster spot, fight to get better. And so, to me, he’s a great story for our academy, all of our academy players and all of our youth players.
Finally, three months later, Cerrillo got his call-up.
Even though he wasn’t on the roster, Cerrillo watched every US World Cup qualifying game in support of his friends and former teammates. He watched fellow FCD products Paxton Pomykal and Brandon Servania, who impressed throughout qualifiers, and he said the US looked very impressive. The US went undefeated in qualifiers, had a goal differential of 42, and took home the CONCACAF Championship.
Now, with Cerrillo in the mix, he said the US will be one of the top teams heading to Poland when matches kick off May 23.
“Honestly, I saw a lot of quality in the qualifying games, and if we look out for each other and fight for one another, we can go far in this tournament, if not win the trophy,” Cerrillo said.
Servania will once again be traveling with the U-20s this summer, and he said he’s excited to finally have Cerrillo on the team — something that had been coming for a long time.
“He’s done an amazing job with the first team coming in and being a starter,” Servania said. “He had a big role, and he’s done well. He definitely deserves this opportunity, and hopefully he can do the same thing with the U-20’s and win a trophy.”
When asked about what this World Cup call-up means to him, Cerrillo immediately referred to his hometown of Waco, Texas. He said this opportunity is special because it shows a kid from anywhere can make on the biggest of stages with hard work and dedication.
“Just coming from Waco and having this opportunity to represent my team and country at the World Cup is surreal,” Cerrillo said. “Every kid aspires to be one day of playing at a World Cup, and I think that at the U-20 level, it’s going to be the same experience.”