BEAVERTON, Ore. – One year ago, Carlos Anguiano was on the path to collegiate soccer, set to end his development in the Portland Timbers Academy by switching coasts, enrolling at the University of North Carolina, and starting an entirely new chapter of his soccer development.
Then, at some point last winter, things changed. A native of Salem, Oregon, the then-19-year-old decided to stay with what he knew. Signing a professional contract with his boyhood club’s United Soccer League team, Anguiano began a path which, today, has been rewarded by a new level of recognition.
Ranking seventh on the league’s 2019 20 Under 20 list, the just-turned 20-year-old midfielder is being honored for what Timbers 2 followers have seen from him throughout the season. Anguiano is being honored for both his present and his future.
“Carlos has developed a lot in his first professional season and there is still a lot of growth in him yet. We have challenged him to be more aggressive in possession, more of a leader on the field and more of a scoring threat going forward. For his continued development he needs more experience in games and to challenge himself to consistently perform at a higher level every day …
“There is always a lot of pride in seeing a player come through the academy system, play professional games, and ultimately sign a professional contract. Our club infrastructure is designed to promote this type of development and hopefully we can continue to have players work their way through the ranks.” – Cameron Knowles, head coach, Timbers 2
The aggression the T2 head coach talks about, above, is reflected in Anguiano’s numbers. Though “Junior” had seen periodic time with T2 over the previous two year, 2019 has seen him step into a regular role, playing alongside Todd Wharton as the team’s eight in both two- and three-man midfields. The four assists he’s posted from this central role trail only Eryk Williamson (eight) and Foster Langsdorf (six) on the team, with both of those teammates regularly occupying more attacking positions. Thanks to Anguiano’s team-high 88.9 percent pass completion rate, those teammates have gotten more opportunities in attack, with his rate staying high at 82.1 in the opponent’s half of the field.
“The first time I played with Junior in my life was for the Timbers U-23s. This was many years ago, and you know he’s small now, he was smaller then. I was kind of like, ‘who is this kid,’ but he was tearing it up. He had a great touch and the ball would go with him wherever he went with his movements. You could tell he was going to be special.
“[This honor] is really no surprise. I’m glad he’s being recognized by the USL as one of the best 20 players under the age of 20, because he deserves it. He’s been tremendous factor in the good things we’ve done on offense, this year, but he’s also an even better person than he is a player.” – Foster Langsdorf, teammate and fellow Academy product
Allusions to Anguiano’s size are inevitable, but as his career progresses, the story starts to shift from one of doubt to triumph. Officially listed at 5-foot-6 and 120 pounds, Anguiano has persistently had to address questions about his stature, whether it be in podcast interviews or, implicitly, the evaluations of others. But one undeniable aspect of life in USL’s first division is the caliber of athlete you are facing, particularly in their physicality. Perhaps technique or tactical acumen in USL are a step down, and in some teams, professional experience is still being developed, but in the strength, speed and power present in your opponents, USL forces you to combat the game’s physical obstacles. You’re playing against adults fighting for their livelihood – players who have no shame about moving a younger, smaller player off the ball.
That may be the most important part of Anguiano’s first full season – something that goes beyond the bottom-line numbers. In his passing stats, he’s shown the ability to contribute at a new level, but in the eye test – the assessment of the minute-to-minute comfort a player has on the field – there is no doubt. Anguiano has discovered how he can be effective as a pro.
“I’m very happy to have Junior in our club. He is an example in so many ways.
“He’s constantly searching for new ways to continue his development. He’s a person who always appreciates what he and his team are able to achieve. He’s never satisfied with his work. Even though, maybe, in some places in the United States his physical traits might keep him from opportunities, he’s always able to show his quality in this club. We’re fortunate to have a player like him.
“We definitely have high hopes for his future, even though we know there’s still a lot of work to be done. Nevertheless, this year has been a great transition year for him at T2, and during the time he’s been able to train with the first team – and even when he went to Costa Rica (for Timbers’ preseason) – he showed his mind is in the right place, and that he can be an example for all the young players who are here.” – Giovanni Savarese, Timbers head coach
Over the last year, the questions around Anguiano have started to change. It’s no longer whether he can have an impact as a pro. At 20, he’s already doing so. Now, the questions surround his future level, and the heights he can ascend going forward.
With their 20 Under 20 list, USL is recognizing those heights, as well as his potential. They’re recognizing why Anguiano’s making such a pronounced impact at his club.