KANSAS CITY – Almost a year ago Mission native Mikey López stood at a podium before a national audience when he was selected in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft. On July 16, the Valley midfielder made his professional debut for Sporting Kansas City in a regular-season MLS match against Columbus at Crew Stadium.
López started and played 64 minutes in Sporting KC’s 2-1 victory over the Crew. He had two shots in the match.
“It felt amazing, it honestly took a load off my shoulders because I had put so much pressure on myself to make my debut and to perform well,” López said. “It was truly an amazing feeling to get my debut and to perform the way I did. I just have to keep getting better every single day in training and keep getting better in every game that I am a part of.”
Sporting KC drafted López with the No. 14 overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. López featured for the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup before making his Sporting KC debut against the Des Moines Menace in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third round match on May 26.
“It’s just one of my short term goals (debut) that I have accomplished and I have to keep making strides to accomplish other goals that I have for myself,” López said. “That game (against Columbus) was hopefully the beginning of something good for me, playing-wise.”
López spent the majority of 2014 on loan to Sporting KC’s USL Pro affiliates, appearing in 14 games with Orlando City SC and OKC Energy FC. The 21-year-old midfielder scored his first professional goal for Energy FC in a 2-0 win over Sacramento Republic on June 28.
“The loan to Orlando helped me to stay focused throughout the game and being prepared for when your number gets called,” López explained. “That was an experience that I haven’t had to go through a lot in my soccer career, so that helped a lot. The OKC move just helped me rediscover myself as a player and it helped me gain my confidence again.”
“I played a lot more and started every game except one at OKC,” he added. “It helped me get the rust off, play and be myself again. I think both loans helped me a lot to grow as a pro.”
López is yet another native player to prove that the Valley has the soccer talent to play at the game’s highest levels and offered some advice to up and coming players from the area.
“It shows that we are able to not only make it to the pro’s, but that we, as a RGV community, can perform at one of the highest levels in sports, especially in soccer,” López said. “It also shows that determination and hard work can take you far, and the willingness to never give up and keep fighting when things aren’t going your way is also a major part of it. It’s easy to just give up when things aren’t going your way, but when you fight, struggle, and sacrifice, the prize tastes even sweeter than something that came easy.”
“This applies to everything, not only in sports,” he concluded. “We have great talent in the Valley, but one of the biggest problems is the determination and the willingness to never give up and never take no for answer. It’s hard to do that. I know from experience, but we have to be stubborn for something that we want.”
Sporting KC currently has an 11-5-5 record with 38 points and is in first place in the MLS Eastern Conference as of July 28.
The MLS has 19 teams divided in two conferences. The top five teams in each conference advance to the playoffs.