The Timbers' new right back talks growing up in a tough neighborhood in Colombia, his soccer idols, and his style of play
Since Juan Mosquera arrived in Portland last week, he's been busy. There's physical testing, training, meeting the staff, getting situated, getting integrated with his new team... He also got back on a plane this week, traveling with the team to Austin.
We found a moment in his packed schedule to sit down with the Timbers' new right back, and get to know him a little bit better.
The following has been translated from Spanish.
What did you know about Portland and the team before signing with the Timbers?
Mosquera: Truthfully, I had heard little, but I have been following not only the Timbers but the league in general. The league has grown so much. For us younger players, it’s no secret that there’s many Colombian players here. It’s a city that I’ve seen embraces its people and players. That’s what I’ve been able to see the most so far.
What excites me is that it’s very different to my country. I think that’s what makes me feel moved—how welcoming people are here. Not just the fans but also the people that are a part of the club. I think that’s what has made me feel enthusiastic.
What was it like growing up in Cali?
I have a very particular story because [I grew up in] a neighborhood that had a lot of controversy in every sense—a lot of fights and war. It was a very different environment than what most people are used to. [But] I have a family that has always taken care of me. They were very aware of keeping me safe because they knew that if I went a different direction living in my neighborhood, it would get hard. I’ve always been very grateful for that, to them and to God, for the opportunity they’ve given me.
How do you describe yourself as a player?
As a player, I think I would characterize myself as a good teammate. I always give my all—that represents who I am, and I know I also represent my teammates. That’s what characterizes me.
I also want to be someone inside the pitch as well as outside. I always have my short-term and long-term objectives, that’s very important for me personally.
What is your style of play?
It’s not a secret to who knows me, my speed is something that sets me apart. I think that’s fundamental for me. Alongside being fast, I’m a very calm player that can step up when it’s time to make decisions. Like having rest, which is very important.
Who is your role model?
Like everyone, I’ve tried to learn a lot not only the international stars but also players that you may know and interact with. Like I said, I always have clear objectives and I want to write my own story. Dani Alves.
What will you miss the most about Colombia?
A lot of things. My neighborhood, the country, and what I lived day to day in my club there, Medellin, who I’m very thankful for because they welcomed me always and helped me grow not only as a player but as a person as well. Now, I’m writing another story and I’m excited to learn and live it.
Have you talked to any of the other Colombians on the team?
Yes, and they’re Colombians that have their history in Colombia as well. The Chara brothers that everyone know not only as players but as people. Santi as well, who I had the chance to play against. He’s the only Colombian here that I was able to play against in Colombia. Dairon, who also has an amazing way of playing which characterizes Colombians.
So you knew Santi already?
Yes, I know him. He’s the only one I was able to meet back home.
Do you like to dance like your Colombian teammates?
I know how to dance, and I like salsa a lot. But I don’t know about ‘salsa choque’ yet.
Are you by yourself here?
At the moment I’m here alone. Little by little I plan to bring my family with me. There’s five of us [siblings]. Two brothers and two sisters, and I’m the youngest.
In Colombia it's called arroz con pollo. That’s my favorite.
What do you like doing when you’re not playing soccer?
I like to play video games—PlayStation. I like to also take advantage of my free time to read and learn in other topics as well.
Do you have a message to the fans?
Yes, of course. That with me, you won’t only find a player who will just be on the field but also outside [the field], which is the most eye-catching and exciting. What characterizes me as a person, not just a player. I hope to reach many goals together.