Friday, Jan. 9, 2009

Salvadoran star Alas signs with Real Maryland

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Things are starting to happen fast for Real Maryland, one of two new members of the United Soccer League’s Second Division. Last Thursday, just nine days after introducing the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds as their locale for home games this year, the soccer club officially announced the signing of Salvadoran National Team midfielder Dennis Alas.

‘‘I have been waiting for an opportunity where I can display my talent and skills and I believe that with Real Maryland F.C. I have been given that opportunity,” said Alas, through a translator last week. ‘‘I plan to be a good sport on and off the field, and to be a positive role model for all the youth of the state of Maryland.”

Though just 22 years old, Alas already has a distinguished international career. Signed at the tender age of 16 by San Salvador F.C., a soccer club in El Salvador’s top-tier competition level — called Primera División de Fútbol Profesional — Alas scored 34 goals for the club in seven years of action, and was an instrumental part of the team’s 2003 national championship. He has been on the country’s national team since 2002, with whom he has scored 21 career goals.

After a strong summer, which included the game-winning goal in the Salvadorian National Team’s Gold Cup victory over Trinidad and Tobago, Alas started to gain international attention in the United States. He actually trained with Chivas USA of Major League Soccer, a team based out of California, but was not signed. But with gaining attention from numerous soccer teams, it became increasingly apparent he was going to sign somewhere in the U.S.

The advantage Real Maryland had was one of its first signings, fellow Salvadorian Ronald Cerritos. One of the greatest players in the country’s history, Cerritos, 33, has been on the Salvadorian National Team since 1995, where he has been a teammate for all seven years of Alas’ tenure. The two were also teammates on San Salvador F.C. in 2006 and 2007.

‘‘There was a lot of talk that he was going to either a First Division U.S. team, or maybe an MLS team, I don’t know if he was being sought after by MLS team — but once we found out he was available, [Real Maryland club president] Victor Silva jumped on this,” said Real Maryland vice president Ron Kronthal. ‘‘He got a hold of him and signed him in a couple days. He knows Cerritos, they’re fellow countrymen, he’s a bright young star and we’re just really pleased to have him.”

Real Maryland kicks off its 20-game regular season on April 20 at the SoccerPlex. Now, with a roster including two international soccer stars, there’s a growing buzz at Real Maryland headquarters.

‘‘I saw [head coach Silvino] Gonzalo in the office the other day with a long face,” said Kronthal. ‘‘I asked him why and he tells me, ‘I wish the season would start now.’”