Soccer is unique at every level and elite high school players across the nation have a unique decision to make.
Common knowledge dictates that club teams and developmental academies are where young players start their path to professionalism. However, most of those elite clubs and MLS-based franchisees don’t allow players to also participate with their high school teams.
Four years ago, Eduardo Mosqueda had to make the decision between playing with an academy or playing with the Cabrillo Jaguars. The talented forward chose to play for his school.
Last year, Mosqueda helped win the first CIF State championship in Cabrillo history when he was the right-hand man up top with Arnold Giron, who has the school scoring record.
Giron has since left the team to join the Los Angeles Football Club academy, thus ending his high school career. It’s like a basketball player leaving the high school team to play for the Los Angeles Lakers G-League team, and it has left Mosqueda with big cleats to fill.
“Eduardo must be one of our leading assist and leading goal scorers for this team to be successful,” Cabrillo coach Pat Noyes said.
Mosqueda, who is a four-year varsity player, had 15 goals and 17 assists as a junior last season. Now he must quickly develop into a leader for a young team with high expectations. He scored all three goals for the Jaguars in a 3-1 win at Lakewood last week.
“It changed my role completely and the responsibility is pretty huge,” Mosqueda said. “But I want every younger player to look at me as a role model and work hard every day.”
Mosqueda was born and raised in Long Beach, where he grew up playing soccer at the parks and watching Mexican League soccer with his family. He only played with a local league for one year before joining Cosmos Academy in Pomona at 8 years old.
“I just wanted to play soccer and I didn’t care where it was,” Mosqueda said. “I love the sport, and as long as I play it I’m happy.”
Mosqueda played on developmental club teams with Cosmos, F.C. Golden State, Chivas USA, Galaxy and LAFC before he had to make a choice between attending Cabrillo High School or officially signing a contract with a club.
“I had a chance to start as a freshman at Cabrillo and I wanted to represent the Westside,” Mosqueda said. “Once I started my first year, I fell in love with high school soccer. The environment, the away games and traveling with your team is just amazing. It creates a lot of friendships and brotherhood.”
Although the entire team knows they’d be a lot better this year with Giron in the lineup, Mosqueda said his squad is not mad or bitter about him taking the academy opportunity.
“He’s just a really great athlete and it’s a good opportunity for him,” Mosqueda said. “We want someone from the Westside to succeed. We look at him as a role model… We know with his presence we’d be way better up top, but we’re not bitter. We’re humbled. We knew he had a pretty tough decision.”
Mosqueda’s younger brother, Nathan, is also going to have to make that decision next year when he finishes eighth grade. He plays for one of the best developmental academy teams in the nation, and Mosqueda said he holds his own when he plays pickup games with his older bother’s friends.
“It’s a tough decision, but I’d (tell my brother) to play for school because with good grades and talent you can get your education paid for,” Mosqueda said. “If you play academy and get injured you don’t have a backup without an education.”
Mosqueda wants to keep playing soccer at the next level while continuing his education. He likes his social studies and history classes at Cabrillo, but wants to study kinesiology in college and be an athletic trainer.
“His has grown a lot and is a great kid,” Noyes said. “He’ll be succeeding in life after high school and college.”
Mosqueda and Cabrillo will take on rival Millikan in the Moore League “Classico” game tonight at 7 at Veterans Memorial Stadium.