Erik Morales Making Strides With Liga MX’s CF Pachuca After Time with UPSL Squad Matias Almeyda FC
As a young footballer growing up in Mexico, just south of the American border, Erik Morales always had dreams of playing with the pros and signing his first professional contract. Years later, those dreams became a reality with the help of a UPSL club out of Houston, Texas called Matias Almeyda.
“I grew up in Monterrey, Mexico and started playing as early as I could walk, thanks to my dad. I grew up playing with friends in my neighborhood and spent some time in the Tigres Academy, but the conditions we had to play on weren’t always the best. Playing on dirt and patchy grass fields, that’s where I developed and how things began.”
Shortly after his youth soccer career began, Morales and his family traveled north of the Mexican border to Houston, Texas in search of more opportunities and a better life. It wasn’t long before he was recruited by one of the most competitive teams in the Houston area, playing in the largest, most competitive pro-development league in the country.
“I chose Almeyda FC in the UPSL because I was at a point in my playing career where I knew I needed to do more and playing against players my age wasn’t going to get to where I needed to be. I heard about the league through friends who took me to a few training sessions. I was really impressed with the level. Seeing them train over here at a high-level really motivated me and I enjoyed the challenge of not just playing in another youth league”
It was in the UPSL that Morales was forced to adapt and play with guys several years older than him, physically preparing him for the next level, while keeping his technical skills and mental focus sharp.
“Every match was very hard, the teams in the Texas conferences could really play well and it was no easy feat making the playoffs every season. The UPSL did a lot for me, it’s a really good league that helped me grow because I had to play with guys with a lot more experience than me. It forced me to become a better version of the player I was.”
After signing with one of the oldest and most successful clubs in the Mexican Premier Division, Morales is still adjusting to life as a professional at the highest level. CF Pachuca is well-known for its 7 national championships, 5 CONCACAF Champions Cups and Copa Sudamericana title. When asked what’s still to come, Morales describes his dream of one day playing for the Mexican National team.
“My goal is to make my debut with the first team and play in the first division. Everything is good here so far; it’s been a tough last few months and I’m still having to adjust. But I’m grateful, very grateful. And I’m still working towards my dream of representing my country on the field.”
With Liga MX set to continue after the winter break, Morales hopes to still make his debut in the upcoming year. CF Pachuca will look to finish the season strong as well, and finish above rivals Club America and Cruz Azul in the LIGA MX standings. Matias Almeyda meanwhile are in the midst of competing for a UPSL National Title after defeating conference rivals D10 Lions FC in the National Round of 32. The UPSL side have a tough test ahead of them in the form of Austin FC Academy in the Round of 16 to see who will go on to represent their region in the UPSL National Finals.
About the UPSL
The UPSL was formed in 2011 and occupies the unofficial fourth tier of US Soccer. Across its Premier, Division 1 and Womens leagues there are more than 400 teams competing nationwide. The UPSL is now the largest Pro Development League in North America and is a National Affiliate member of the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). Each UPSL team is individually owned and operated. UPSL teams are eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Rounds through the league’s affiliation with USSF.
More information about UPSL can be found at www.upsl.com or by following the league on Facebook (facebook.com/upslsoccer), Instagram (@upslsoccer) and Twitter (@upslsoccer). Contact UPSL: [email protected] / Media: [email protected]