Luis Lozoya Jr. was glued to his smartphone, following a live video stream as he worked as a manager of a Santa Fe bar, waiting to hear a familiar name — that of Axel Lozoya, his younger brother.
Axel Lozoya, a junior midfielder at Monte del Sol Charter School, spent four days in Los Angeles in late September competing in the Sueño Alianza National Showcase, which brought 50 youth soccer players from around the country to play in front of scouts from a variety of professional leagues in the U.S. and Mexico: Major League Soccer, United Soccer League, Liga MX, La Liga and the Mexico national football team. It seemed like hours to Luis Lozoya Jr., but he had not heard his brother’s name chosen by any club. An invite would allow him to go work out for a club with the chance to secure a spot in its youth program.
Then came the words he longed to hear — Monarcas Morelia, a Liga MX team in the heart of Mexico, selected Axel Lozoya to tryout for the organization’s U-17 squad in November. Work stopped for Luis Lozoya Jr., a notable player for the Dragons from 2009-13, and the tears started.
“I dropped everything,” Luis Lozoya Jr. said. “I went straight into tears. I was yelling. I went down to my knees. It was a dream. I can’t say it’s my dream, but it’s his dream and my family’s dream. We worked a very long time for this, and we’ve dedicated time, money, patience — everything that my parents have given us.”
And their parents, Luis Lozoya Sr. and Rocio Rodriguez, haven’t stopped giving to their kids yet. Rodriguez started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for Axel Lozoya’s travel, lodging and food for his stay in Morelia, Mexico, from Nov. 18-22. As of Saturday evening, $860 out of a goal of $3,000 have been raised in the two weeks since Rodriguez started the campaign.
Rodriguez said she explored raising funds because she wanted to do her part to help her son take advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime.
“It’s important for me to see how he is doing with his dreams,” Rodriguez said. “He said to me, ‘Mom I wish I could play pro,’ and his big dream is to go play in Mexico.”
Axel Lozoya got his chance by going through tryouts with Sueño Alianza, a national tryout program that identifies and selects the top Hispanic players in the country to get involved in select youth programs with professional soccer clubs. The first was in Denver in July and Axel Lozoya was among several hundred participants. He was one of five selected to advance to the Sueño Alianza National Showcase in late September.
It was the second time Axel Lozoya attended the event, saying he was among the five selected to advance to the national showcase in 2018, but he never received a call to attend. It was a different story this time, and he got the opportunity to practice and work out in front of dozens of scouts.
“We were playing in front of 40 different scouts — the MLS, the USL, U.S. Soccer, Mexico national soccer, the Mexican League,” Axel Lozoya said. “I was nervous.”
However, Axel Lozoya felt prepared for the environment considering how much time he’s put into the sport. Soccer has been a big influence on the Lozoya family.
Luis Lozoya Jr., 24, parlayed his play at Monte del Sol into a scholarship to play at Eastern New Mexico from 2014-17. Axel Lozoya, 16, has been a mainstay on the club soccer scene since he was 10, playing for both Rio Rapids Northern Soccer and La Liga in Santa Fe before joining Monte del Sol’s team in 2018. Younger brother Freddy Lozoya, 11, followed Axel Lozoya’s route and plays for Rio Rapids Northern Soccer.
The success of Luis Lozoya Jr. had a huge influence on Axel Lozoya, who says he looks up to his big brother. “Luis has always been my biggest inspiration,” Axel Lozoya said. “He’ always been my favorite brother.”
However, Axel Lozoya’s recent success rubbed off on Freddy Lozoya.
“When Freddy saw that it is possible to play pro and saw all the coaches and pro teams, the level he started playing at afterwards was incredible,” said Luis Lozoya Sr., who worked for
18 years at the Pantry Restaurant before becoming manager of the recently opened Pantry Dos.
While Luis Lozoya Jr. was a forward and goal scorer during his prep career, he said Axel Lozoya is more of a passer and distributor. His stats at Monte del Sol bear that out, as he has five goals and four assists for a team that is 11-3 after a 10-0 win over District 1-1A/3A foe Moreno Valley on Saturday. The team is ranked fourth in Class 1A/3A in the latest MaxPreps.com Freeman rankings.
“He has a lot of foot skills,” Luis Lozoya Jr. said. “He’s not very physical, very big, but what he has is quick feet. His footwork, the ball at his feet, his first touch and the training he’s had, I think, is phenomenal. It’s the best I’ve seen in town.”
The brothers’ soccer acumen wouldn’t have been possible without the support of their parents. Luis Lozoya Sr. said he has spent, on average, a few thousands dollars every year for Axel and Freddy Lozoya to play club soccer, and that includes both of them earning scholarships that help defray some of those costs.
The biggest expense is the travel for regional and national tournaments. Luis Lozoya Sr. said he spent $1,000 each on plane tickets to Utah for his wife and Freddy Lozoya a few of weeks ago, and Rodriguez went to
Los Angeles with Axel Lozoya. Luis Lozoya Sr. had to stay home because it was the opening weekend for the new restaurant.
“I cannot tell you how much I’ve spent on hotels, gasoline and all of that,” Luis Lozoya Sr. said. “It’s very expensive but we can do it.”
If the family can raise enough money for Axel Lozoya to reach Morelia, the possibility of Axel Lozoya leaving home becomes a much greater possibility. Axel Lozoya said he has traveled alone to Mexico before to visit family in Chihuahua. He recognizes that his family won’t be able to come to his matches as much — if at all.
“Whatever comes, comes,” Axel Lozoya said. “It will be hard to leave my family behind, but I have the chance to come back and see them. It will be hard not seeing my parents there giving me the support they have at games. Whatever comes, I will take it, however it comes.”
Rodriguez said she has a brother, who lives near Morelia, who can continue to be the family support mechanism, but she admits it will be tough if Axel Lozoya leaves — much harder than when Luis Lozoya Jr. left for Portales to play at ENMU. Luis Lozoya Sr. said the family is prepared for whatever happens.
“It’s going to be hard, but we are ready for it,” Luis Lozoya Sr. said. “[Axel] wants to be a pro. He can do it. We know he can do it. It’s just one big opportunity waiting for him.”
Chasing a soccer dream
• A GoFundMe page is helping raise money for Monte del Sol junior Axel Lozoya to travel to Morelia, Mexico, to tryout for Monarcas Morelia’s U-17 team. For more information, or to donate, go to www.gofundme.com/f/soccer-travel-to-mexico.