FRISCO, Texas — It was a day to remember for Luchi Gonzalez. He earned his first Major League Soccer win as a head coach.
“I was pretty nervous the first two minutes, but after a little bit, I kinda settled in,” Cerrillo said. “It kind of looked like training. I got the confidence in me, and I’m just happy with the minutes I got today.”
Cerrillo subbed on for Santiago Mosquera in the 79th minute to help see off the game for the team. He was signed to a homegrown contract on Feb. 14 after training with the first team during preseason. It was a moment of joy for the 18-year-old, whose first touch was against a player he considered a role model — Galaxy midfielder Jonathan dos Santos.
“It was crazy,” Cerrillo said. “I think I saw Jonathan was going to be the one that was going to defend me. He’s an idol, someone I look up to. It’s crazy to think we’re on the same field.”
Cerrillo was the only non-Homegrown academy player with the team during training camp. While he would sometimes train with the MLS team under former coach Oscar Pareja, it was clear Gonzalez had plans for him beyond minutes with the academy.
“I’ve been training with the first team for a while,” Cerrillo said. “Last year, going in and out, probably two or three times a week. Little by little, I got that confidence. When he told me I was going to go to the preseason, I just went in there with confidence, knowing I can play and try to make a name for myself and try to impress Luchi.
“Luchi used to be my academy coach two years ago and used to see me in the academy, so he gave me the extra confidence. I went in trying to do my business, trying to play the way I play, and thankfully I got the contract, and that was a big step in my career.”
After strong games from homegrown midfielder Paxton Pomykal and Cerrillo, Dallas’ midfield looks like it has a bright future. For Cerillo, it’s just another step on his journey as a soccer player.
“It’s a dream come true,” Cerrillo said. “It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for ever since I was a little kid, ever since I’ve tried to play professional soccer. The first step was obviously signing my first contract and my next step was my debut, and thankfully, coaches believed in me today and gave me that opportunity.”