Photo by Robert Mora/LA Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. – Raul Mendiola is a unique talent, but the 18-year-old midfield believes that he’s still got a ways to go in his development.
On Sunday, Mendiola went 90 minutes during the LA Galaxy Under-18’s 3-1 victory over the Chivas USA Under-18’s. Throughout the match, Mendiola was dangerous, playing the role of playmaker for the squad and helping to set up a number of dangerous scoring chances in the victory over Chivas. However, the Academy isn't the only place for Mendiola to hone his skills as the 18-year-old from San Bernardino is a regular sight at Galaxy first team training sessions and made a total of seven appearances for LA's Reserve League squad this season. The teenager;s development has excited many, including Galaxy U-18 head coach Eddie Soto, but the Galaxy youth coach admits that Mendiola remains a work in progress.
"He’s one of my favorite players and I’ve known him since he was a little kid. To coach him last year and I’m excited to be part of his development," Soto told LA Galaxy Insider last Sunday. "He’s in a different position than the other kids because he’s scratching the surface with the first team. He’s got a lot of learning to do so Raul is a player is a player that needs to get better at the day to day stuff. He’s got the tools and he’s got the ability that’s so different from what were used to seeing and we just have to make him more into a complete player."
Below Mendiola discusses the differences to playing with the Academy and training with the Reserves as well as his relationship with Soto...
MENDIOLA: “It’s different, it is way different with the Reserves, I’ve been getting 15 or 20 minutes so I just go in to try and help the team get three points, that’s all I focus on. When I come [to the Academy], I have to work a little more to show that I can be in the first team as well. I have a bigger responsibility when I’m [with the U-18s], but all info goes to the first team so I try to work on [my game]. But I just worry on getting three points all the time.”
(On his relationship with Soto…)
MENDIOLA: “It’s good. I remember that last year, I had a little bit problem so he came up to me to see what was going on so that he could help me focus on soccer because you have to be really good mentally. But I have a really good relationship with Eddie.”
(On what Soto tells him to improve…)
MENDIOLA: “Before the game, Eddie always tells me to defend, defend, that’s my biggest job. They also tell me with the first team to defend, defend because that’s what wins you games. Before the game, I just think about what Eddie tells me so that’s all that I worry about.”
(On what he believes that he needs to improve upon…)
MENDIOLA: “A little bit of everything, I’m still trying to get there with fitness, defending and attacking. Everything. You need to get better every day so day by day; we’ll see how it goes.”