'A little luck and timing': Steres makes most of LA Galaxy debut

It took four years for Daniel Steres to make his MLS debut, in which he scored for the LA Galaxy. He discussed his breakthrough moment with FourFourTwo.

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There is one thing about Daniel Steres’ still young career that was, and still is, remarkable: Wherever he goes, he succeeds. Even when where he goes does not match where he may belong.

After four standout years at San Diego State University, Steres was chosen 28th overall by now defunct Chivas USA in the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft. He was on his way to a professional soccer career.

But that is where the snags started to kick in. Steres was never offered a professional contract by Chivas USA.

He was then picked up by the Seattle Sounders, who again, never gave him his chance. Steres’ frustrations at lack of inclusion saw him drop down to the USL with the Wilmington Hammerheads in 2013 (before Wilmington became an affiliate of NYCFC). He led Wilmington in scoring that season with seven goals.

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Then he came to LA Galaxy II, where he led the third-division team to last year’s USL Championship, losing to the Rochester Rhinos. However, Steres always knew he belonged at a higher level. His own personal success in the USL set him apart from the crowd. It was a wonder how that chance took so long to come.

But it did come. All of a sudden, Steres’ opportunity was in the making incredibly quickly, as he was awarded his first MLS contract with the LA Galaxy in December. With Jelle Van Damme carrying an injury, Steres unexpectedly started Sunday’s opener and immediately gave himself a Hollywood beginning, scoring the Galaxy’s first goal of the season and sparking what would turn into a 4-1 comeback victory over D.C. United.

And it was not just the goal that was a testament of his deservedness to be where he is. By the end of the match, Steres led the Galaxy in clearances and aerial duels won, completed 53 of 63 passes and had a welted eye as a trophy from it all.

The Los Angeles-area native, who was drafted by LA-based Chivas USA four years ago, came full-circle on Sunday at the StubHub Center.

It was clear that he belonged on the pitch at the highest level on Sunday. So how could someone at Steres’ level essentially be lost in the system for such a period of time?

Some people get into it all faster, some people never do. I’m where I’m at because of a little luck and timing. Some people just develop quicker than others."

“It’s interesting,” Steres tells FourFourTwo, reflecting on his path to this point. “Some people get into it all faster, some people never do. I’m where I’m at because of a little luck and timing. Some people just develop quicker than others. Again, it’s just timing. Some have it right away. As a defender, it just took longer. It’s an experience-based position.”

There are many other players out there who are at the same spot where Steres recently was, just looking for chance. Even now that he has that contract in hand, Steres is well aware of that, having come through the ranks.

“There are definitely a lot of guys out there in the USL and the NASL that can make a difference wherever they go,” he said. “Whether that be MLS or somewhere else. It all has to do with timing.”

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There are frequent stories of players getting lost in academies like that of Barcelona’s, so talent identification is not uniquely an American issue.

“MLS is actually doing a very good job as of late,” he said. “They are focusing on the academy more, guys are being brought up from the USL and the NASL and being given their shot sooner.”

Steres’ words ring true to what is happening within MLS, which in 2013 entered a partnership with the USL.  Heading into 2016, 11 USL teams will be MLS-operated franchises, with several more independent USL sides serving as MLS affiliates.Much like the loan system in Europe, these affiliations allow MLS clubs to send young players to their affiliates for further development.

The next step, then, would be determining what it was that Steres did right, so that other players who are potentially lost in the system can mimic his rise - a story which still has a ways to go for the 25-year-old. There is no trick to it, Steres says.

“It all has to do with timing,” he told FourFourTwo. “You just have to know your own quality and have confidence in that quality.”

What’s it about, in a word? “Consistency.”

Steers said frustration wasn’t a factor for him. Instead, he notes that it was just a relief when he finally stepped on to an MLS pitch on Sunday. “Sometimes it just takes a while,” he added casually.

Steres said that he did not even know he would be starting until the day before the match. Twenty-four hours later he had a goal under his belt and he was trending on Twitter.

Where does one go from there? It seems clear enough to Steres.

“I have to keep the spot. I’ll do everything I can to stay on the pitch.”