When a young Jonathan Arellano was asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, only one thing came to mind: the dream of being a professional soccer player. And next weekend, the Real San Jose goalkeeper takes yet another step into making that dream a reality.
Arellano recently became one of just seventeen players selected to represent the West Region at the inaugural NPSL Combine Tournament. The San Jose, CA native happens to be a true product of the NPSL, having played in the league since the tender young age of 17. And he starred for a Real San Jose youth team even a year before that.
Jonathan is part of a soccer family with father, Nick, and brother, Nico, being a big part of the San Jose soccer scene. Nick is the head coach at Real San Jose, while Nico was a star goalkeeper/forward on the squad for many years. Jonathan would actually make his first NPSL appearance in 2008 against the Santa Cruz County Breakers when Nico made the switch to play up top to chase the game-tying goal. That was a key moment for Jonathan and he has never looked back.
Jonathan has actually been the starting goalkeeper at RSJ from 2009-2014, serving last season as team captain as voted by his teammates. He has gotten the job done from day one, earning a shutout in his first NPSL start in a 1-0 win over Lamorinda Hotspur in 2009. And you can also count two successful seasons at Evergreen Valley College in there as well, spending a season as captain.
The entire NPSL experience, which includes playing for his father since his junior year in high school, has been an incredible one for Johnathan.
“If you work hard and have hunger and fight, the league is good for you. You truly get what you put into it. If you have passion, heart, and drive you can be successful and get to the next level. I am glad the league gives players an avenue for that.”
Getting to the next level is what the January combine is all about and Jonathan is one of the league’s best prospects. And he is looking forward to the event.
“I’m excited to give a really good impression. It’s an opportunity to move up. I want to move on to bigger and better games. I want to accomplish the dream.”
That dream is to sign a pro contract, something Jonathan is hoping will happen after the combine. He is confident he will do well at the event and he credits his brother Nico for giving him that edge in the mental side of the game.
“He was always a confident guy and he always made me feel confident.”
Jonathan counts his father and goalkeeping coach Rich Raflowski as other key influences.
“My dad has been a huge influence. He’s given me a chance to develop. He threw me into the fire, let me learn like any other goalkeeper. The biggest thing is that he supported me through tough times and pushed me to do my best.”
Jonathan was quick to share praise for his goalkeeping coach as well. Raflowski has been with Jonathan and RSJ since 2010.
“He is a very good player’s coach. He always has good insights, shares another point of view. He has shown me a whole lot.”
And all of this time, effort, and hard work has paid off in a big way. Jonathan is now a top goalkeeping prospect with all the tools. He has a massive wingspan and tremendous reach, a keeper with speed and athleticism. His teammates praise his ability to be vocal and to organize a defense. He doesn’t shy away from contact and he certainly is aggressive in “dominating his box.” He takes pride in being a good shot stopper.
He sure sounds like a goalkeeper pro teams would love to have because he is a goalie that can get the job done under pressure and in the toughest situations. Take that incredible match in 2010 where Jonathan tallied a remarkable 24 saves in a match against the Sacramento Gold. It was an amazing and perhaps record-setting performance, another game and another moment he will never forget.
But the most interesting moment in Jonathan’s career has to be a 2010 scrimmage against the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer (MLS). It was an exciting match for all involved as Jonathan faced off against Chris Wondolowski, an NPSL alum and a recent member of the U.S. Men’s National Team. The play of the game just happened to be a diving save from Jonathan that kept a well-placed Wondolowski header from becoming a goal. Jonathan rose to the challenge once again, getting the job done against the best of the best. Wouldn’t it be something if he would get to face Wondo again? That would mean that his dream of becoming a professional soccer player has finally come true.