CARSON, Calif.— LA Galaxy U-18 midfielder Willie Raygoza is like most teenagers— He can’t wait for the weekend to come.
But unlike most teenagers, his reasoning is far different.
This Sunday, the Galaxy Academy go head-to-head with rival Chivas USA Academy at the U-18 and U-16 level. Raygoza can’t wait for that game. These games are what makes soccer fun.
Raygoza, who during the week goes to school at South El Monte High and is verbally committed to attend soccer powerhouse UCLA next fall, has had a good start to the season. A starter in the Galaxy’s talented U-18 midfield, this is Raygoza’s third season in the Galaxy Academy. He’s been in the starting lineup for all three games this season and scored the game-winning goal in the club’s first win of the year, a 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Sept. 9. Raygoza has helped lead the club to a 2-0-1 start to the season, putting LA in a three-way tie for first place with Chivas USA (2-0-1) and Real Salt Lake-Arizona (2-0-1).
LAGalaxy.com talked with Raygoza ahead of this Sunday’s game against Chivas USA about the rivalry with the goats, his time with the Galaxy Academy, his desire to one day suit up for the first team as a professional.
LAGalaxy.com: First off, thanks for joining us. We’ll get right to it. Are you excited about Sunday’s game Chivas USA?
Willie Raygoza: “Yeah, very excited. I had an injury recently, but I’m excited to be back for Chivas. These games are usually very intense. For some reason, Chivas always plays tough against us and it’s always a good game. It’s always back-and-forth.”
LA: Is this, as they say, a statement game, even though early in the season?
WR: “Of course. We want to show them who the real team in L.A. is. (Last year Chivas USA made it to Academy Finals Week) this year we want to make it far and hopefully win league and the Academy Finals.”
LA: What does it mean to you to play for the Galaxy Academy?
WR: “It means a lot. The feeling that we’re so close to the first team is a real motivating situation. It makes you come to training with the right mindset. I hope to some day do more… Get a professional contract with the Galaxy or play in college and get drafted.”
LA: You have already given your verbal commitment to UCLA, currently ranked No. 4 in the nation, and are considered one of the top prospects to come from the Galaxy Academy, did you ever think you would be in this position a couple of years ago?
WR: No. I never thought I would be playing under a professional club like this. It’s probably luck how I got here as I came here just for a training session but I ended up staying. (The Galaxy Academy) has helped me a lot. It’s a lot of work, from my teammates and everyone, but going to showcases exposed me to colleges that wouldn’t have seen me. I don’t think it would have ever happened if I’m not playing for the Academy team.”
LA: What is your ideal outcome for Sunday’s game against Chivas USA?
WR: “I want to win. I want to go out and play hard and win. Hopefully the team feels the same way and we get the win we want. It would be good motivation for the rest of the season.”
The games between LA Galaxy and Chivas USA start at 10 a.m. with the U-18’s kicking off the action first while the U-16’s will play at 12:30 p.m. Both games, which will be played on University Field #2 at The Home Depot Center, are open to the public and parking is free. Those interested in attending are encouraged to enter the stadium grounds through Gate D off of Victoria St.