Securing a foothold
Rojas becomes Mustangs backline anchor
When Edwin Rojas steps onto the pitch in UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Sunday, March 5, he will be one of three Mustangs to have played in every game this year.
The defender trails only midfielder Efrain “Wilo” Martinez and keeper Jesus Flores in appearances since joining the team at the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
“Edwin has developed into the player we thought he could become when we saw him at tryouts,” Chicago coach Armando Gamboa says. “His presence in the back has given us another reliable defender this year. We hope to continue see him grow as a player with the Chicago Mustangs.”
This year him and Schaumburg native Ephraim Beard are the top scorers among defenders with 14 points.
His established role in the squad led him to move his wife and daughter to the States three months ago, which has correlated with him becoming the staple of the Mustang backline.
“I immediately saw his joy on the field this year, with his family here,” Gamboa says. “He plays with a lighter touch and has more confidence.”
Having already experienced playing in a foreign country without his family, he relishes living with his family even more.
“I’ve been through that already, now, I’m thankful that to be able to bring (my wife and daughter) here,” Rojas says. “My family being here helps me play better, I don’t have to worry about what they are doing or how they are doing.”
On the field, the difference between year one when his family was in Mexico, to year two with his family in the stands, has been stark. He has shown the pace in the back to defend any forward or winger in the league. He has also seen an uptick in his ability to get forward, more than doubling his two goals and one assist from last year with five goals and nine assists this season.
Rojas was named to the MASL Team of the Week in week eight. His journey to America began when he met defender Luis “Peewee” Ortega playing in local leagues in Chicago.
With Peewee being his in to the Mustangs, Rojas moved to the U.S. in July of 2015. He said playing pro soccer with the Mustangs is a huge opportunity compared to the low employment and low income in Mexico.
The 27-year-old faces the challenges that come with a language barrier, he is currently taking English courses. However, it’s no secret that the Mustangs (10-9) have a heavy Latino influx with 15 players with roots to Latin America. This includes six players that split their time playing in Mexico and the U.S.
“It always good to be able to communicate with everyone in the same language, but in the field it is not all verbal,” Rojas says. “It’s a plus having players who speak Spanish, the style of play they bring is different from Americans. My game is more technical and less physical.”
Founded in 2012, the Chicago Mustangs compete in the MASL. The Mustangs were the 2014 Ron Newman Cup Champions and 2014 U.S. Open Minifutbol Champions. For tickets visit chicagomustangspro.com, like them on Facebook facebook.com/ChicagoMustangs and follow them on Twitter @MustangsSoccer.