Every athlete at every age has dreams; big or small, athletes dream of rising to the highest levels of their respective sport. The question is, how far and how hard will an athlete work to make those dreams into a reality? Those who put in extra hours and work hard even when no one is watching are often the ones that make their dreams come true. For anyone looking for proof of this, look no further than 17-year-old Coronado native CJ Fodrey.
On April 6, 2021, CJ signed a contract with the local professional soccer team, the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club, which was founded and is operated, by Warren Smith and the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) legend Landon Donovan. Fodrey was one of just four local San Diego area teen soccer players to be offered a contract by the club.
Over the last few months, Fodrey has continued to grind to earn more regular minutes on the pitch, and last Saturday Fodrey saw his most extensive action this season. In what was perhaps the Loyal’s most anticipated game this season, the Loyals hosted Mexican Primera Division’s Club Tijuana in an international friendly.
“I was definitely a little nervous pregame,” said Fodrey. “Going up against guys who are multi-million-dollar contract players in front of a sold-out crowd was definitely exciting.”
Fodrey checked in to start the second half and would play the final 45 minutes of the closely contested match. “The time I was out there it was a great experience, going against a ton of top-class players. I just tried to stay within myself and compete as hard as I can,” said Fodrey.
CJ told me games and minutes like this are key in gaining experience and though he is still getting used to the pace at which the game is played professionally, he feels very confident in the progression in his game and skill.
The Loyals would ultimately fall 1-0 to Club Tijuana, but the feedback was nothing but positive postgame for Fodrey. “The coaches just told us how big of an accomplishment this was and how happy they were with our performance out there. It’s a game I can look to build on in the future.”
Head Coach and Former USMNT star Donovan told reporters postgame, “There’s no substitute playing against really great players. Glad no one got injured and it was a great experience for our young kids and the players who don’t get a lot of minutes.”
Games and performances like this will be key in securing the 17-year-old Fodrey more minutes and time with the Loyal. But with his clear abundance of natural talent, it won’t be long until 45-plus minutes appearances become regular for Fodrey.