Note from Bryan: One of my goals with SoccerCleats101 has always been to provide you guys with top quality and unbiased information on soccer products. Unfortunately, I am not a goalkeeper – so trying to feed you guys with info on gloves and the right boots to wear would be mundane and very much false. With that being said, I’ve been working on some recruiting and am happy to introduce our new full-time goalkeeper writer – Aaron Perez.
Not only does Aaron have pro experience as a goalkeeper (he currently plays for the LA Blues), but he has also played in front of 80,000+ crowds! Yes, I said 80k (read below). The guy is a beast and his ability to stop shots ranks amongst the best keepers I have ever played with. I asked Aaron to feed us some info on him and his experiences, even if he is a UCLA alumni!!! Check it out – and then stay tuned for our new “GK Shutout” section. Last thing, Aaron is also a full-time personal trainer, so the guy is FIT!
Ironically, I remember my first ever soccer game. I was playing for a team, the “Dragons”, and could not wait to score my first ever goal – I was 7. I started the game off at right forward. I was big, pacey, and could absolutely CRUSH a shot on target. Everything was great until in about the 15th minute, or the first half being over (at that time, AYSO was played in 3 “halves”), when I was put in goal. I was given a hideous green jersey, which reflected sunlight like a fish in the water, that had red sleeves and fit like an old hand-me-down sweater. “You’re the biggest kid on the team, Aaron, and you’re kick can help spring us on offense.” Again, I was 7.
Fast forward to a few years later, that same coach happened to become my first and only club coach with the LaVerne Lazers. I was big, strong and athletic. I could punt a ball across the field. I absolutely ADORED soccer. I would play goalie at school- breaks, PE, recesses, after school- all of it. I would watch tv in Spanish, since at that time that was usually the only soccer available, and study goalies and there movements. Jorge Campos was playing for the Galaxy, and I loved his bright jerseys and brave demeanor. All the while, I was training two times a week with the Lazers, and would constantly beat out any other keepers who showed up to practice. As we got older, the team got to be pretty good. We were the first team to go from Coast Soccer League bronze division to Premier in 4 years, and I played with and against guys like Maurice Edu, Michael Randolph, Memo Gonzales, Sammy Ochoa, etc.
However, once high school started I began punting for the football team, and ironically earned over 25 Division 1 football scholarship offers by my junior year, eventually deciding to attend UCLA to punt.
Throughout college, I couldn’t really play much competitively, so I naturally got really good at FIFA, and in 2007 was briefly ranked #1 in the world online. After college, I signed with the New England Patriots for a month, and after being released, attended camps with the Dolphins, Bills, and in the UFL. However, my heart was not into it. I began playing in an rec league in Santa Monica, and from there began to crave the sport again. I would always bug friends to come take shots on me at local parks. I began working out in the gym (I am also a certified personal trainer) like a goalkeeper, leaning out and getting quicker. From there, a guy asked me to come try out with a local accomplished amateur team. This guy and this team would become like family to me. The guy was Bryan Byrne, and the team was the infamous Doxa Italia.
From Doxa, I played PDL and NPSL, and now find myself signed to the LA Blues in the USL. I played in several games this year, and got the start vs Chivas USA in the US Open Cup, losing 2-1 on a bogus penalty! I trained every single day on my own with a group of local goalkeepers at the park, and never went a day without enhancing my footwork, handling and distribution, all the major elements of a good goalkeeper.
My philosophy in life is simple. “…But who are you NOT to be?” Even though I do not have a storied college goalkeeper career, I work my tail off and landed a professional contract. I train to get better at specific situations that happen in a game. Take each day as a day to improve and strengthen my weaknesses. I spend my weekend mornings at Ye Olde King’s Head pub in Santa Monica watching my beloved Arsenal I study YouTube clips of the Fraser Forsters, Manuel Neuers and Joe Harts of the world—guys that are big and athletic like myself.
Because of my knowledge, I know what the best eat, how they prepare, and most interestingly, what they wear. I can not WAIT to shed some light on the best goalkeeper products out there. From gloves to training accessories, I will make sure that YOU, the player, are best fitted and ready to dominate. Soccer Cleats 101 is the best in the business, and I am FIRED UP to join the team!