The Los Angeles Galaxy will hold open player tryouts on Saturday and Sunday at The Home Depot Center. It will be an exercise in futility for the majority of the several hundred athletes who are expected to take part, but for those who merit serious consideration from team coaches and officials they need to look no farther than the Galaxy's Tristan Bowen for inspiration.
The 20-year-old forward was discovered in early 2007 at one of these tryouts and came up through the team's youth academy before officially signing with the parent club in November of 2008. Bowen said he still thinks back on that time of his life and savors his good fortune.
"I think about it quite a bit, especially when someone might come up to me and say, 'Hey, you're the guy that made it through the tryouts,'" he said. "One minute you're training like any other kid at the park, and the next moment you're a professional athlete.''
Galaxy assistant coach and director of player development Trevor James said Bowen easily belonged among the better players when the tryouts began.
"Once they started having the small-sided games he really stood out," James recalled. "He certainly did impress."
There was just one problem: Bowen was under age. He was 16 at the time and the minimum age requirement for the tryouts was 18. But thanks to fake identification supplied by his uncle, Hugh Carter, Bowen successfully went through the screening process and managed to stick around.
"I still have the ID in my room," he said with a grin. "I think I had long hair in the picture and I still had braces. I don't know how it went through, but it was one of the worst IDs I've ever seen."
Bowen surprisingly said he wasn't nervous at the tryout because he had been working out for several teams. He also had been playing soccer in Brazil between the ages of 14 and 16. He remembers being confident but at the same time curious to see if he could perform under pressure.
Bowen recalled driving back to his Los Angeles home with his uncle "chewing him out" for his poor showing when then-Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas called him to tell him they were interested in bringing him into the organization. Bowen eventually joined the club's new youth Rios program and now is entering his second season with the parent club.
Bowen had simple but sound advice for the participants in this weekend's tryouts.
"Just go out and have fun," the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder said. "Show the coaches what you can do and don't overdo it. That's the most important thing ... keep it simple. And when the opportunity presents itself, show your abilities."
Take it from one who knows -- and continues to count his blessings.
"It's surreal at times," he said. "You're coming out with the best of the best, the guys you grew up watching on TV. At times I don't believe it actually happened."
Larry Morgan is a contributor to MLSnet.com.