Osito Profile: Willie Martin Raygoza

Coming from South El Monte, California, freshman midfielder Willie Martin Raygoza was thrilled when he was given the opportunity to play soccer at UCLA.

During his sophomore year at South El Monte High School, Raygoza was offered a spot on the men’s soccer team. It was a huge exhilaration for him and his family when they heard the news.

As a first-generation college student, the news of attending a university filled his entire family with pride. “They all were very proud of me. They really wanted me to (attend) UCLA,” Raygoza said.

Raygoza, who started playing around the age of seven, was inspired by his dad who also played soccer. Some of Raygoza’s achievements include being rated number nine club player in the country by Top Drawer Soccer, as well as scoring the game winning goal in the finals for the Galaxy in the 2011 U-15/16 U.S. Soccer Department Academy National Championship, in which he was the captain.

Willie Martin Raygoza

Raygoza manages both soccer and academics, saying that “it’s not as difficult.” He is currently Undeclared, Life Science and plans to pursue a career in professional soccer.

Raygoza feels privileged to be Mexican and pursue soccer at a university like UCLA. As the oldest child, and the first of his entire family to attend university, he reminds us:

“Nothing is impossible. If you want it, fight for it.”

World Cup Burdens Brazilians

Brazil, the home of the football lovers, is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014. This “miracle”, as many Brazilians call it, hasn’t happened since 1950, and many soccer fans are excited for it. I feel honored that my home country is able to host the most important international sports event. I am excited to go back to Brazil, in 2014, especially to visit my hometown, São Paulo, where the opening of the World Cup will be held.

Morumbi, a soccer stadium, was where the opening game of the World Cup was supposed to be held at and I only lived fifteen minutes away from it. The only memory I have with Morumbi is from when my dad took me to my first soccer match with him when I was eight years old. Unfortunately because of São Paulo’s financial situation, Morumbi is not able to hold the opening game of the World Cup because of the lack of renovation funds. The FIFA federation decided to move the opening game from Morumbi to the “Corinthians New Stadium” where less money is needed to bring the stadium to safe conditions. Guilherme Macedo Silva, says that “the ‘Corinthians new stadium’ renovation is undergoing a lot of construction, and at a very fast pace. It will probably be the most modern stadium, and hopefully the most beautiful one in the country. A lot of other stadiums are going through constructions too, but the pressure on aesthetics remains on the Corinthians stadium.”

While hosting the World Cup is a very exciting thing for Brazilians, not all of them are pleased with the constructions. “The problem right now is that constructions are very superficial, and a lot of public money is going to waste,” says Guilherme.

“Superficial” construction isn’t the only problem. Another unsatisfied Brazilian, Fernando Bicudo, says that Brazil needs to “improve subways, bus and airport systems and also create hotels for tourists…the national image of Brazil is in the hands of the government and I feel like too much money is being taken from citizens in order to accomplish this. We have our own financial worries too.”

Although hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup is a blessing and an honor for Brazil, there is a lot of local and international pressure on the government to ensure that Brazil’s image is not blemished. I feel somewhat of a “free-loader” compared to my childhood friends, since I am not experiencing raised taxes and prices in everything, yet I will still get to enjoy the experience of the World Cup when I go back for the first time since I immigrated in 2004.

Ronaldo Retires After 18 Years

Ronaldo scoring the winning penalty in the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final against Paris Saint-Germain. Photo: Wikipedia.

After 18 years of professional play, after being named FIFA Player of the Year three times, after setting – and still holding – the record of 15 goals scored during the World Cup, and after winning the World Cup twice, Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldo retires from the game because of persistent knee injuries and his body’s inability to keep up.

With tears in his eyes and his two sons by his side, the 34-year-old announced his decision on February 14, which ended his contract with the Brazilian club Corinthians.

Fans have been disappointed with Ronaldo’s performance, which has been deteriorating for two years during which he’s faced three serious knee injuries that have threatened to end his career. He’s been forced to work even harder since he learned he has hypothyroidism, a condition that makes it difficult for him to stay in shape.

According to NPR, Ronaldo said that he wants to “publicly apologize for failing in the [Copa] Libertadores project,” the most important Latin American tournament.

However, team President Andres Sanchez handed him a jersey with the words “forever” and “phenomenon,” and former Inter Milan teammate Youri Djorkaeff said, “Ronaldo is the best player I ever played with.” Many would agree, despite his downfall these past few years.