Midfielder Eric Gonzalez brings a veteran presence to the Temecula FC squad, adding years of professional experience to the team.
The Corona, California native spent time with both Las Vegas Lights FC and Oakland Roots after a decorated high school, club, and collegiate career.
His soccer journey began at a very young age.
“I fell in love with the game of soccer at the age of four,” Gonzalez said. “Since then, there have been so many amazing memories that I have had because of soccer and I hope to continue making even better memories in the latter stages of my playing career.”
In 2011, Gonzalez led Santiago HS to an undefeated season and a Big VIII league title, the first in school history. He was selected as The Press-Enterprise Player of the Year that same year.
Gonzalez’s youth career includes playing in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) with the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. In 2008–09, he made 24 appearances for the LA Galaxy U-15/U-16 squad and helped the club win the first USSDA U-16 Championship.
In 2009, he was even part of the U.S. U-17 national team.
Gonzalez played four years of college soccer and made 70 appearances for the University of California, Riverside. In 2014, he led the program to its first-ever NCAA Big West Title.
Temecula FC definitely has big plans for Gonzalez.
“I see Eric as a playmaker, either relieving the pressure on our defense or setting up an attack at speed,” Temecula FC head coach Austin Levins said. “He has a great read on the game and his intelligent decision making could be vital in our bid to make the playoffs.”
Gonzalez is excited for the opportunity to be part of the club.
“I’m just looking forward to playing competitively again, especially given the whole COVID-19 pandemic,” Gonzalez said. “I’m hoping to play as long as possible, I’m just grateful that Temecula FC opened their doors for me to join in this season. I’m hoping to coach at the highest level possible, so being able to lead and to help coach as a player would be a great start here at Temecula FC.”
His playing style fits nicely with Temecula’s approach to the game.
“I see myself as a very competitive and passionate player,” Gonzalez said. “I try to lead as much as possible and I consider myself a technical player as well.”
Gonzalez will be counted on for leadership thanks to his experience at the highest levels.
“I learned many things from my experiences as a professional soccer player,” Gonzalez said. “I had many great teammates that I was very fortunate enough to play alongside. Seeing their work ethic, their discipline, and how competitive they were about every training session and every game really opened my eyes to how the professional soccer world was like. These are experiences I hope to bring with me to Temecula FC.”
Expectations are high at Temecula FC, especially when you consider that their 2020 season was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans and supporters are definitely anxious to see what the Quails bring to the pitch in 2021.
“I’m hoping to achieve many things at Temecula FC,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully, we’re able to win a league title, especially in the post-COVID era. For me, that would be something to end this year on a good note. As an experienced player, I hope to lead the younger players into a professional-like setting onto the team. For those that want to play at the college or professional level, I hope to give them advice and to push them in training and in games to help them reach their goals.”
Gonzalez likea what Temecula FC has to offer.
“Temecula FC opened their doors for me to take part in this season with them,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been missing playing competitively and when I heard the NPSL was coming back and the nearest team around me was Temecula was FC, I took the opportunity in reaching out for a chance to play this season. Temecula FC has always been a powerhouse team in the Inland Empire. When I found out I had friends that were going to play as well with Temecula FC, I couldn’t miss out on that opportunity to play with them again.”
He also sees a lot of value in the NPSL platform.
“I think that the NPSL has a huge role in the development of players, especially for those that are playing in college as they have the NPSL as a league to play in when they are in their offseason with their college teams,” Gonzalez said. “The NPSL is such a competitive league that many talented players are looking to play in as it has the competitive environment of playing in stadiums and having fans in attendance, it’s the closest level we have in nearly playing in an almost professional-like setting.”
The NPSL’s Southwest Conference is always incredibly competitive and players like Gonzalez only raise the level of play. It’s going to be an exciting 2021 season, one that will be remembered for many years to come.
Photo Credit: Doug Yoder