The former Spanish youth international and Real Madrid Academy product came to the United States to play college soccer for Iona, before transferring to UCLA ahead of the 2011 season.
Now, after completing his eligibility in Westwood, the midfielder has eyes on MLS and next week’s draft. We recently caught up with the Spaniard who discussed what the last four years have been like playing in the USA.
How would you describe yourself as a player to someone who’s never seen you play?
I would say I’m a player who really likes to care of the ball. I try to dominate the game, try to combine a lot with my teammates and try to break down the defense in the final third. I can play different positions up top, on the left side, right side or underneath the forward. Depending on what position I’m playing I’ll do different things on the field.
What’s it been like coming to the United States from Spain to play college soccer?
It was different because I was playing at Real Madrid for nine years. The culture of soccer is a lot different. It’s the same sport but the way soccer is played [in Spain] is a lot different than the way it’s played in college. It took me a little bit to get used to the way it’s played here, but I think that good players get used to any type of environment. After my first year I was able to recognize a little bit what I needed to do and after that it was pretty easy. My teammates and my coaches helped me a lot and the transition wasn’t that hard.
Why did you decide to come play college soccer here instead of staying in Spain and turning pro?
When I was 18 I had the chance to sign a professional contract in Spain, but the thing is in Spain you have to choose either to play professional or continue to study. You can’t do both, or it’s almost impossible to do it. I considered that it was risky to put all the cards to soccer being that young and I had the option to come to the States with a full scholarship to play at different colleges and I could do both. I know the level was going to be a little bit lower, but the level still allowed me to play at a really high level.
What were the last three years like playing at UCLA and living in Los Angeles?
It was great. I transferred year my first year after being here one year. I knew that the level was going to be a little bit higher, and when I got there that was true…I had the chance to learn a lot from different players that now are professional and my third and fourth year I had the chance to play a lot, to be an important player in the team. I wanted to finish my last year a little bit better, but we didn’t have enough luck against UConn. I’m sure that if we could have won that game, we would’ve been in the finals of the NCAA tournament this year.
Have you watched a lot of MLS? What’s your take on the league and its growth over the last few years?
It’s amazing, it’s one of the biggest developments in the world in soccer for me. I’ve been able to practice with many different MLS teams during my two years in LA and it’s a great level, it’s a really, really good level. Every year it is growing and getting better, players are getting better, the teams are getting more and more competitive and a lot of players in Europe are trying to come here.
In what position do you feel most comfortable on the field?
I’ve played a lot of years on the left wing, that’s probably where I feel the most comfortable playing. I’ve played a lot as a second forward, more in the middle but offensively, trying to connect the midfield with the forwards, and I feel comfortable there as well because I’ve played many years there. If I had to choose it would be on one of the sides, left or right wing where I feel more comfortable.
A Victor Munoz highlight reel:
Munoz is represented by Kevin Weinress of First Wave Sports Marketing and Enrique Cortina of Reygadas.