Photo by FC Tucson
After excelling with FC Tucson in the PDL, Aaron Herrera is currently taking part in a tournament with the U.S. Under-20 National Team in the hopes of impressing Head Coach Tab Ramos ahead of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.
The 19-year-old PDL Top Prospect started for the U.S. U-20s on Wednesday, helping his side secure a 2-0 win against the Costa Rica U-20s in the 2016 U-20 Men’s NTC Invitational.
His skill and strength were on full display in the PDL, as he has started five games for Tucson in the 2016 PDL regular season, assisting one goal while helping the club earn four wins – including three shutouts – and one tie.
“Aaron has been extremely hard-working,” Head Coach Rick Schantz said. “He is always in the weight room and meeting with our support staff. Aaron takes incredible care of his body and shows a desire to be a professional by keeping such high standards for himself. On the field, Aaron has a very high technical level. His first touch keeps him out of trouble and often sets him up to start an attack. He also has the speed and strength to beat players while going forward. Aaron is quickly becoming a prototypical modern fullback.
“He still needs to improve some of his positioning while defending the counter attack,” Schantz said. “As he continues to play at a high level his defensive positioning will get challenged. He has always been able to recover because of his world class athletic ability, but at the next level he will need a little better anticipation and positional awareness.”
A rising sophomore at the University of New Mexico, Herrera has played the sport of soccer since he was a little kid, and learned much of what he knows about the game from his parents, Diego and Donni Herrera.
“Basically, I was coached by my mom and dad for most of my life,” Tucson’s Herrera said. “My dad was my coach growing up through club soccer, and at around 14, I moved to Real Salt Lake Academy.”
Herrera, who grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, attended Real Salt Lake Academy from 2012-15 before committing to play for the New Mexico Lobos. The defender made 15 appearances – a majority at right back – and had one assist during the 2015 college campaign.
Herrera began receiving attention from the U.S. Youth National Team in 2014 while with Real Salt Lake. He participated in a training camp with the U-18 U.S. National Team before receiving call-ups to the U-20 team a year later. He has received regular call-ups to the U-20 team since then, and is eager to make a lasting impression on Ramos.
“It’s another step closer to the World Cup next year,” Herrera said. “We have a couple more camps this year, and early next year, qualifiers start. So every time you get called in, it’s a step closer. At the same time, you’ve got to prove yourself.
“I definitely want to keep getting called into the U-20s, but at the same time, I want to go back to UNM and build off of what we did last year. Last year wasn’t too successful for us. I definitely want to go back and be a big player for them and have a really good year there.”
Herrera is well on his way to a professional career, and has remained in contact with Real Salt Lake while with the Lobos. He is open to all options moving forward, but one thing he is hoping for is more playing time in the PDL.
"There are a couple of teammates from Real Salt Lake at FC Tucson, so I knew the facilities were really nice, and since they were they, they were wanting me to come play there as well," Herrera said in regard to why he chose to play for the Southwest Division side.
"I'd like to drive back out there," Herrera continued. "I didn't feel like I was there long enough, but hopefully I'll be able to go back for playoffs and play a couple more games this season."