Player Profile: Pablo Rodriguez
FC Grande jumped into the UPSL last year and immediately made an impact, winning most of their games and finishing second in the Southwest Conference. The Las Cruces, New Mexico talent of the players and the club’s early success was unexpected to many, but not to people of their home city. Central to that success was the play of team captain and experienced leader Pablo Rodriguez. Primarily playing as a defensive midfielder, Pablo was crucial to FC Grande’s strong defense. With the Southwest Conference kicking off in a month, we sat down with Pablo to talk about his path to FC Grande, his expectations for next season, and how FCG will get past the rest of a strong conference.
So tell us about your story. Where are you from, what do you do, tell us your soccer story.
My name is Pablo Rodriguez.
I was born in El Paso, Tx.
Was raised in Mexico , but at the age of 13 my parents decided to move to the States, so I guess you can say my youth soccer career started in Las Cruces. I was lucky enough to meet great people in the community that got me to play in a competitive team. I played for the FC Strikers during my youth, with them I was able to conquer a State Championship and a Regional Runner up. I also attended Mayfield High School - that’s where I graduated . After high school I attended a junior college based out of Colorado “Otero Junior College.“ I played soccer there for 2 years and was able to graduate with an Associates of Criminal Justice. Being a “ Juco,” I got offered a scholarship in Atlanta, Georgia at a University and that’s where I ended my College Soccer Career. I also played for the El Paso Patriots during the years of 2012-2014. The El Paso Patriots was a team that played in the Premier Development League better knows as “PDL.” There I was able to play in the Open Cup as well.
What's it like living in such an isolated town?
Living in Las Cruces it’s actually really nice. It’s a nice small town with great people in the community, everyone is kind and people are always happy to help one another.
What's the soccer community like in Las Cruces?
The soccer community is great, I have had the privilege to meet many coaches and players here and everyone is super supportive. I think we all saw last season that at our home games we had a great crowd, I believe we were Top 5 in the nation, that tells you how much the soccer community is involved in Las Cruces.
You've been with FC Grande since their first season. What has the process of starting from scratch been like?
The process has been really good, last year’s tryouts were very competitive, players from New Mexico and Texas attended so I thought the level of playing at tryouts was competitive. Being a first year team last year brought the soccer community very close, we are hoping this season it gets even better .
Your conference has been dominated by Sporting AZ FC. How does FC Grande climb the mountain this season?
I believe Sporting AZ is a well-organized team, but I wouldn’t give them that much respect. This conference is hard so anything can happen - anyone can beat anyone. As for us, we have been working really hard this off season, our goal is to bring a Conference Title to the Las Cruces community and we will work hard on and off the field to achieve this goal.
Has the success of Southwest FC (El Paso) in the USOC qualifiers made you wish FC Grande would enter?
I believe next year FC Grande will enter the Open Cup. It’s a great tournament to be in and with the talent this team has, we will do a good job.
Speaking of Southwest FC, apparently some FCG players jumped ship to join them, any thoughts?
I wish them all the best of luck, some of them are friends, but of course once in the field that friendship goes away.
Describe your game, what are your strengths and weaknesses?
Last season I was in 2 different positions: I started as a center back, mid season I was playing as a holding mid. The way I control the game, it’s something the coaches have always liked about my style of play. This season I will be playing a role of more of an attacking player, creating more in the final third.
What have you worked on in the offseason?
Speed, I’m not much of a fast player, so I’ve been working on speed.
What should we expect from you and FCG this season?
Expect a young team with a lot of heart and hustle. The way last season ended just gave us more motivation to win a Conference title. We have been working really hard this off season so the team is ready to get rolling.
Chips Ahoy: original or chewy?
What music are you listening to lately?
I like to listen to “reggaeton.” That style of music puts me in a good mood especially on game days.