Menace interns Tyler Peeler and Jeremy Reinert will bring you a player spotlight each week during the 2012 season; this week features Menace center-back, Javi Lopez.
With soccer in his roots and on his mind, Javi Lopez came to the United States looking for professional-soccer possibilities. The Granada, Spain native saw America as an opportunity to climb the ranks as a soccer player. In 2011 Rafael Martinez, the Spanish head coach of Marshalltown Community College, recruited Lopez using the Des Moines Menace as his trump card.
“Rafael talked to me about playing for the Menace before,” said Lopez. “Menace I always kept in my mind – and the opportunity to play professionally.”
Spending his first season with the Menace, Lopez represents just one of the 30 plus nationalities that have been a part of the Menace’s 19-year history in the Premier Development League. Chasing dreams instead of returning home for the summer, Lopez leaves behind a country with high hopes for 2012.
As Spain’s national team attempts to be the first side to win back-to-back championships in the Euro Cup, Lopez is nearly 4,600 miles away. Still, he supports his native land the best he can.
“We believe the Euro Cup is one of the most important things for us,” Lopez said of the Union of European Futbol Associations’ 52-year-old tournament. “I support my team. Last week I watched the game (Sunday, a 1-1 tie with Italy) with my Spanish flag. I try to show people soccer – it’s how we live
“Soccer is a part of life,” said Lopez. “It’s very important I can bring a vision of soccer that’s different, it’s a part of the culture."
Lopez’s contribution to the Menace is highlighted by his “Mr. B Man of the Match” performance in the Menace’s 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Brass on June 9. Lopez notched the equalizer and sealed the win, heading in both goals.
Just a sophomore, Lopez hasn’t let his age or broken English hold him back from being a vocal leader for Des Moines. Playing center-back alongside third-year player and Menace captain Jack Pearson, Lopez understands the opportunity he has to grow as a player.
“I can really learn from these guys,” Lopez said of his teammates. “I feel like I’m at home.”
Name: Javier Lopez Mochon
Hometown: Granada, Spain College Experience: Marshalltown Community College Graduation Year/Degree: 2013 Pre-Game Ritual: Keep my concentration, remember good performances, establish some goals, pray. Favorite Team: Real Madrid Favorite Player: Raul Gonzalez Favorite Food: Paella Nickname: Javi Lopez Favorite Goal Celebration: Torero