When we sat down with Eduardo (Eddie) “el Vaquero” Velez he said something that surprised me. He said, “I was hoping that I’d get called to do this.” I go into these meetings like a little kid. It never crosses my mind that these men would be actually looking forward to this. Speaking for myself, it is an amazing blessing. I only hope that I am able to present all of the viewers with the chemistry that exists every time.
As we conclude the season, this is my final interview with a current player until I reset my game plan and hit the ground running after I return from my honeymoon in late April. The off season promises to have a good list of guests. I will be talking with players from other teams for the first time on Ponto Off the Wall.
Eddie grew up just south of San Diego, across the border in Tijuana. Most people don’t realize that Tijuana, Mexico is among the largest population centers in the world.
Eddie’s story starts in a culture where every single kid dreams of the blessings Eddie has received.
Let me tell you a secret. Eddie Velez is one of the single biggest reasons the MASL has the huge Mexican style, players, teams, etc.
He was the co-owner of the Tijuana Revolucion. That was the first team south of the border in the PASL. Of course, there had been the Monterrey La Raza and Mexico Toros, and Futbol Rapido is a popular pastime in Mexico, but in terms of the state of Arena Soccer in America today, Eddie’s discussions with then-PASL Commissioner and the league’s original founder Kevin Milliken were a part of a new wave of engagement with our southern neighbors, and the game and league continues to reap the benefits. We have a very unique phenomenon happening here. The nature of our game has two very distinct styles of play. And some teams, like the San Diego Sockers have taken the chance that these styles can play on the same field together, with success.
Eddie played for the Mexican National Arena Soccer Team in the 2015 WMF World Cup in the United States, where Mexico lost in the championship game to the host, USNAST.
He instantly became a fan favorite and passionate player to the ball when he came to San Diego. As the Sockers have been bringing in more youth and speed, they have gone to the Mexican players. Eddie a natural leader for that roll. The language barrier still exists somewhat, but with Eddie’s leadership and experience the entire team has bought into the same page in terms of Game Day.
I have known Eddie for a number of years, but this was the first time we had an extended conversation. What I immediately discovered was a kindred spirit for his life, his career, his history, his family…
And speaking of family, you will be moved by his story of how he and his beautiful wife got together.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. It was the perfect one to close out the season.