Carmel Valley native a nominee for the 2014 Major League Soccer All Star game

A.J. Soares Courtesy photos

By Karen Billing

A.J. Soares, the only Major League Soccer player to come out of Torrey Pines High School, is having one of his best professional seasons this year. The 25-year-old athlete has been the New England Revolution’s most consistent presence on defense this year, playing every minute of every game so far. Soares has also helped the team on the attacking end, scoring a memorable goal at Philadelphia in week 11.

Soares’ strong efforts have made him a nominee for the MLS All Star game. Fan votes will decide whether Soares gets the chance to represent the United States and showcase the league in a match against Germany’s Bayern Munich.

The All Star game will be held on Aug. 6 in Portland and will air on ESPN2. Fans can vote for Soares online at mlssoccer.com/all-star/2014/vote through July 11.

The center defenseman is now in his fourth season with the New England Revolution.

“My dream my whole life has been to play professional soccer, and to play the sport I love every day for my job, it’s pretty awesome,” said Soares. “I’m just a normal kid from the Carmel Valley area, and it shows it’s very attainable if you work hard.”

Soares played with San Diego Surf Soccer from the time he was 7 years old until he was 18. His best memories from the early Surf days are of the San Diego Surf Cup, a tournament held every summer at the San Diego Polo Field.

“I always loved representing the club at what felt like a huge tournament,” Soares said.

He went on to play at UC Berkeley, where he was named the 2010 first team All American and 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year. In his four years at Cal he missed only two games and helped his team advance to three NCAA Tournaments, including the national quarterfinals in 2010.

A.J. Soares and Servando Carrasco (Houston Dynamo) from their days at Surf Soccer Club.

New England picked Soares as the sixth overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Soares said the team has given him an amazing opportunity.

“My most memorable moment in soccer so far was my debut in 2011,” Soares said. “It was my first professional game and I played in Los Angeles against the Galaxy, in front of all my friends and family and against one of my idols, David Beckham.”

He is used to playing against famous soccer players and doesn’t get starstruck, but he does enjoy the chance to play against some of the best in the world, such as Thierry Henry, Alessandro Nesta, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and all of Manchester United and Inter Milan.

The 6-foot Soares is described as a skilled defender and very physical leader on the field.

“My best strength as a defender is my brain. I always think my way through games and try to plan well and be one step ahead of my opponents,” said Soares. “I also love the camaraderie of soccer, so I get fired up during games and love to fight to win with my good friends that are my teammates.”

In addition to playing for the Revolution, Soares is also the team’s representative for The Sports Museum’s Boston vs. Bullies educational program, where he teaches anti-bullying behavior to Boston-area kids. He is also a volunteer assistant soccer coach for the Harvard University men’s soccer team. Harvard’s head coach, Pieter Lehrer, was the assistant coach at Cal when he played there.

“We are very close friends, and I enjoy working with such great students who are also great players,” Soares said.

The MLS season is essentially a full-year gig with only December off. At the midway point, the Revolution team is in a good spot in second place in the eastern conference at 7-5-2 behind DC United.

“We want to make the playoffs. We just have to stay on top of the table and keep winning games,” Soares said.

Last week, Soares was spending some time away from Boston in San Diego and taking the opportunity to watch a lot of World Cup soccer.

“To me, it’s the best sporting event ever to watch,” he said.

While Soares has done some analyst work with Comcast New England’s World Cup coverage, he does not believe broadcasting is in his future — he has his sights set on making a World Cup team himself four years from now.

Vote Soares into the All Star game at

mlssoccer.com/all-star/2014/vote

.


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