When Adrian Arguello picked up the phone, all he could hear was his mother crying.
She eventually relayed the message that the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program picked Arguello to travel to Argentina as part of a national all-star team, offering the 14-year-old from Caldwell a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I just got really excited. I was happy,” said Arguello, who is competing with his U-15 Boise Nationals Madrid team at the Idaho State Cup this weekend in Boise. “This gives me more confidence to play at a higher level. And as a player, I think I’ve improved a lot.”
Arguello and select players from around the U.S. traveled to Argentina from March 25 to April 3 to take on youth teams throughout the soccer powerhouse’s country. He caught the eye of national coaches after a February trip to Costa Rica as part of a regional ODP team.
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Arguello started two of three games in Argentina, where the U.S. went 1-2. The attacking central midfielder headed in the tying goal in the 42nd minute of the final game against Newell’s Old Boys, Lionel Messi’s and Diego Maradona’s former academy.
Argentina rallied to win that game, but Arguello, a first-team 4A Southern Idaho Conference pick as a freshman, said scoring in a foreign country against some of its top players showed his success in Idaho isn’t an anomaly.
“Something like that doesn’t happen to me everyday,” he said.
Arguello’s club team has benefited, said Matt Billings, the coach Boise Nationals Madrid, which opened the State Cup on Friday with a dominating 7-0 win. After competing against top prospects from around the world, Billings said Arguello returned to Idaho with an inner drive to improve.
“We certainly as a club have some very special players, but few have the capabilities that Adrian does where, at any time in the game, he can take over the game,” Billings said. “Although it’s a team sport, there are times when he can dismantle a team.”
Billings first coached Arguello on a U-10 team, when he played up an age group. Billings said he knew Arguello was special, even as a 9-year-old.
He continued to play with boys a year older than him until last year, when he played with his own age group at U-14. He remains in his age group this season, but after a trial in Portland for the Timbers’ academy, the Timbers asked the Boise Nationals to push him into a higher age group next season to continue to challenge him.
“Physically, he’s an extremely strong player and he has tons of pace,” Billings said. “But the thing that he surpasses others in more than anything is his technique on the ball, his vision as far as being able to break down defenses, but play a sporting ball to a forward.
“Many of the world’s best players, like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, are certainly known for their goal-scoring prowess. But Adrian, I think, is player that can do both. He’s a player that is very unselfish in the way he plays, but he has the capability to score goals himself.”
Idaho State Cup
▪ What: State tournament for youth soccer teams
▪ Levels: U-13 to 17 boys and girls, U-19 boys
▪ Where: Simplot Sports Complex, Boise
▪ When: Friday-Monday. Games start at 9 a.m. All championships Monday.
▪ Next: Champions qualify for Far West Regionals on June 20-26 at Simplot.