Goalkeeper Luis Robles, one of the first players to participate in the Tucson Soccer Academy in its inaugural 2000 season, has become the first player to train at the USA national level.
Robles, 25, has been with Team USA since May 26 when he was one of two players added to the 24-man roster which is preparing to compete in the FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Costa Rica and Honduras next week.
“It’s an incredible honor,’’ Robles said of being invited to participate with the United States’ elite players. “It’s definitely a culmination of all the hard work I’ve gone through, including that at the Tucson Soccer Academy and Tucson United.’’
Robles, a Sierra Vista Buena High School graduate, played for the University of Portland, and is currently under contract with Kaiserslautern, Germany. Robles was taken by Major League Soccer’s D.C. United with the 50th pick of the MLS SuperDraft in 2007.
“Even though I have an invite and am with the team, I still feel there is still a lot of work to be done,’’ Robles said. “Ultimately I want to be starting for this team and want to be playing in a World Cup. It’s a great honor for what this is, but it also gives me hunger for even more possibilities in my career.’’
Robles’ success is no surprise to TSA founder Wolfgang Weber, who had a goal nine years ago of eventually getting a southern Arizona player from TSA into national team prominence.
“He certainly is the pride and joy of all of us here at TSA,’’ Weber said. “I’ve seen him play at every conceivable level.’’
It wasn’t long ago a group of players, including Robles, from Sierra Vista drove to Tucson three to four times a week to practice for TSA. Wolfgang said that goes to show just how committed and dedicated Robles was to becoming a top player in the sport.
Robles’ inclusion on the USA national team’s workouts comes on the heels of unprecedented TSA success. TSA had four second-place finishes in the recent Arizona State Cup and eight Final Four participants among its boys and girls clubs.
“That’s one of the things we were striving for,’’ Weber said of TSA’s overall success. “When we set out on this journey we felt we had to develop players who can compete on the state level and can compete on the regional level. What’s happened this year, with all its success, gives us an indication we are moving in the right direction.’’
Robles said he was aware of TSA’s growth and recent success.
“The organization Wolf was trying to accomplish from the very beginning was and is because he laid the groundwork with the principle and foundation for it to be a successful club,’’ Robles said. “Whatever he’s reaping now, he has sown years ago.’’