Nineteen years ago, Kevin Venegas picked up his first soccer ball at the age of 3. Since then, it has been his goal and dream to play for a Major League Soccer team.
The morning Venegas went with his friends to Disneyland he told his mom not to text him unless he was drafted. After checking his phone, he finally received the text he was hoping for.
“I knew I had been drafted, but I didn’t know from which team,” said Venegas.
Cal State Fullerton’s midfielder was the 37th person selected by Chivas USA in the MLS supplemental draft.
Venegas had practiced with Chivas USA in previous summers. According to Head Coach Bob Ammann, the MLS team was already aware of Venegas’ talents and attended his games.
“The fact that they selected him was not a surprise to me whatsoever,” said Ammann.
According to Ammann, Venegas has an advantage: his versatility.
“His versatility will obviously be a little bit more advantageous than the other players they selected that are pigeon-holed into one spot,” Ammann said.
Venegas proves his versatility by naming all the positions he has played throughout his soccer career. Starting in center midfield and making his way wide right and then left half. Next, he played middle, right back and forward. His senior year he played right middle and right half and currently plays right half.
“You can throw me in pretty much anywhere and I just adjust, and I adjust quickly and I learn fast so I think that helps me in the long run,” Venegas said.
Teammate Jameson Campbell describes Venegas as a competitive player who is very intense and well rounded.
“He is definitely a hard worker,” said Campbell. “He definitely earned everything he’s gotten so far.”
Even though Venegas means business on the field, he also has his fun. Campbell explains how he and Venegas would dance the “Dougie” after a goal or assist.
All athletes deal with struggles. According to Ammann, the biggest struggle Venegas has overcome is controlling the emotions that dictate his performance. Ammann explains how players at this level have the same abilities, but what makes the difference is their mental approach.
“You need to be mentally strong; you have to have a lot of self confidence,” Ammann said.
According to Ammann, Venegas has become more in control of his mental game year after year, and this process will continue to evolve.
Venegas was identified as one of the top players in the Big West Conference. Ammann insists that his versatility contributed to making him a nationally recognized soccer player.
“He’s going to get the nod over another player who can only play one place,” Ammann said.
Ammann’s one piece of advice is to always believe in yourself because there are always going to be doubters.
“If you start to doubt yourself it’s going to make the experience that much worse,” Amman said. “You have to be mentally strong.”
Ammann, who also played for a professional soccer league, said college soccer versus professional soccer is a very different environment. In college soccer, teammates are your brothers. In professional soccer, it is a job.
Venegas has ended his second week of preseason training camp. He explains how he is establishing himself and settling into this new environment. He also has to get used to his new coaches and what they want to see from him.
“It’s all about hard work. I can’t just stop because I got drafted. I got to keep going,” Venegas said.