Many players come through Cal Poly men’s soccer program with dreams of playing after college and taking their game to the professional level.
Former Cal Poly midfielder Junior Burgos turned that dream into a reality.
Burgos became the first player in Cal Poly’s history to be selected to play in the MLS after he was drafted in the third round of last Thursday’s Major League SuperDraft, 44th overall, by Toronto FC.
“Playing professionally was my dream as a little boy,” Burgos said. “I started playing when I was 3, and the more I played, the more I realized I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”
As a part of the El Salvador Men’s National Team player pool, Burgos had his first glimpse of the pros after being called up to play with the team on three different occasions.
After playing two seasons with San Jose State, Burgos first came to Cal Poly as a junior and made an immediate impact finishing second on the team in scoring four goals in his first season as a Mustang.
Burgos finished his senior season leading the team with three assists and second with three goals, earning himself second team All Big-West honors.
Head coach Paul Holocher, who coached Burgos in each of his two seasons with Cal Poly, said he was proud of what Burgos has accomplished and was glad he was able to coach him along the way.
“We feel really great that we can be part of his development,” Holocher said. “It’s a credit to Junior, to his teammates and to the coaching staff, who put in a lot of hard work in; he deserves it. Hopefully what he learned here at Cal Poly was that, to be a top player, you have to have the right mentality, you have to have a good work ethic and you have to put the team first.”
As he moves on in his career, Burgos said he will always remember the memories he made with the Cal Poly team. But one game will always stick out in his mind.
“Beating Santa Barbara in overtime on national television in front of 8,000 fans was one of the best feelings,” Burgos said. “All the fans rushing the field, everyone was so happy, so excited. It is a memory I’ll never forget.”
Holocher said he hopes Burgos continues to develop into an even better player and continues to have the same success he did with Cal Poly.
“This is just a first step for Junior,” Holocher said. “He’s now got to go over there to Toronto and prove he can handle the rigors of being a professional day in and day out at the level of competition.”
Burgos, along with 54 other collegiate seniors, was selected in early December by a panel of Division I coaches and MLS managers to participate in the Major League Soccer Player Combine. Players were divided into four teams, and each team played two matches between Jan. 7 and Jan. 11.
Burgos participated on team Jabulani and made the highlight reel in his team’s 2-0 loss, recording a shot attempt on a free kick just outside of the penalty box.
Toronto FC, which averages 20,230 attendees per game, finished last season fifth of eight teams in the Eastern Conference with a 9-13-8 record.
Burgos said now, more than ever, he is motivated to work harder to make an impact as an MLS player.
“I think of all the hard work I’ve put in so far, but this is just the beginning of my career,” Burgos said. “I’m going to work harder and focus a lot more to be even better.”