CARSON, Calif. – You remember Emil Cuello, don’t you?
He was a first-round selection (19th overall out of Southern Methodist University) in January’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft in Chicago and had an impressive, professional debut during a preseason 1-1 tie with Toronto FC on February 10.
But since then, his appearances have been sporadic. He has made four appearances, including two starts – the regular-season opener against Chicago on March 2 and May 24 against Orlando City – but he’s pretty much been on the outside looking in as Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and general manager Dennis te Kloese retooled the roster.
Cuello’s status could change, however, thanks to his very first Galaxy goal in Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Orange County FC in a U.S. Open Cup match played in front of a crowd estimated at 5,000 at Dignity Health Sports Park’s track and field stadium.
“It feels great to get the first one out of the way,” he said of his strike in the 90th minute which occurred six minutes after he came on as a substitute for Emmanuel Boateng. “It could have been a tap-in or whatever.
“I was just happy.”
Cuello, who later admitted he second-guessed himself after squandering what appeared to be a good scoring opportunity moments earlier – “I was pretty disappointed with myself because I didn’t shoot it,” he said – was confident the goal would prove beneficial, particularly on an emotional level.
A season that started with such aplomb but has lost much of its excitement since then has been difficult on the 22-year-old, but he’s never lost his enthusiasm or drive to succeed.
“It (the goal) gives me a little bit more confidence to keep working hard and keep doing my thing,” he said. “We’ll see what happens from here.”
And whatever does happen, he won’t be taken by surprise. He’s already had his share of peaks and valleys.
“It can be a roller coaster ride of emotions at times,” he said, “but what are you going to do? All you can do is keep working hard and keep building the confidence in practice.”
Cuello was asked if this rookie season, with all of its highs and lows, was what he expected.
“For sure,” he said. “That’s soccer. One day you can be up here and the next you can be on the second team.”