Even when Raul Aguilera Jr. didn't like soccer as a young boy, his father pushed him toward the game, seeing that he had the potential to become something special.
Aguilera Jr.'s dad, Raul Aguilera Sr., moved from Mexico to Orlando and played for the Orlando Sundogs in 1997, two years before his son was born. But when the team disbanded after its first year in existence, the elder Aguilera stayed in Orlando to raise his family.
And while Aguilera Jr. showed promising signs early in his life of becoming a good soccer player, it's doubtful either one could have foreseen the son would follow directly in his father's footsteps.
But that's exactly what has happened, as the formation of Orlando City B will make Aguilera Jr. the team's first second-generation USL player (the Sundogs were an A-league team). Aguilera was present at Orlando City B's introductory press conference and is widely expected to become the team's fifth Homegrown Player signing. Aguilera Jr. is not yet signed and is still an academy player, but he has been training with the first team for months and as an academy product he can still play for the USL side.
"I feel like it is all coming together," said Aguilera Jr. "OCB makes me feel like I can do this. It isn’t as hard as I thought. Making the jump from the youth academy to MLS is really hard. The opportunity to play in USL gives us a place to work on our skills. USL is no joke, it is a good level. Playing with older men and professionals is going to be really good for me and other teammates."
It is unclear if or when Aguilera will be signed to a Homegrown contract, but it is worth noting the club signed its fourth homegrown player, goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar, this week. He joined Tommy Redding, Tyler Turner and Harrison Heath as the club's Homegrown Players — a foursome many expect to spend plenty of time with Orlando City B.
Unlike most of his teammates at Orlando City B, Aguilera has never been a part of a soccer club outside of Orlando.
He grew up playing in the Orlando City academy and has stayed local his entire life. The only time Aguilera Jr. has ventured out of Orlando is in his stints with the U.S. academy. Aguilera has spent time with the U.S. U-15, U-16 and U-18 programs. In July, he was called up for the U-18 program for the 2015 Open Nordic Cup Tournament.
Most recently, in October, Aguilera was put on the 24-player roster at the National Training Center in Carson, CA, for a domestic training camp. On Oct. 23, Aguilera started both games in the U-18 team's 3-1 victory and 3-2 loss to Canada as part of the two-game friendly series with the neighbors from the north.
The 17-year-old is propelled by his vision and foot skills that allow him to play the possession-style soccer that Orlando City plays in MLS and hopes to play in the USL with OCB. Aguilera will likely find himself in the midfield with Tony Rocha -- who the team brought in from the Austin Aztex along with left back Mikey Ambrose -- and Heath.