Defying the odds that Supplemental Draft picks must overcome to earn a contract with MLS, 2012 second round selection Cesar Diaz Pizarro has been signed to a deal with the San Jose Earthquakes. The UC Riverside senior forward had a successful showing at the Earthquakes December combine, which was enough to convince the team to spend a draft pick on him in January, and he continued that impressive form in the Earthquakes preseason training camp.
“He’s a good, young player,” said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop. “We’d seen him from scouting him and watching him he was a good player, but we needed to see if he could step into our level. After the first week to ten days it was clear to me he deserves a spot with us. He’s going to take some work, but I think he has all the tools to be pretty good.”
Diaz Pizarro was born in Peru, so he will count as an International Player on the Earthquakes roster, but is working to become domestically eligible. Prior to enrolling at UC Riverside, Diaz Pizarro spent time with PSG and Arsenal as a youth player as well as with the Universita de deportes in Peru. After his recently concluded senior year at UC Riverside, Diaz Pizarro was named the Big West Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
“It feels great,” said Diaz Pizarro at getting the news that he had made the Earthquakes roster. “It is an honor to be on this team, everyone here, the coaching staff and my teammates — it’s a great feeling to be here.”
Coach Yallop detailed that the forward was on their radar for quite some time, and made a great impression when he trained with the team at their offseason combine.
“We had him in our December combine, so we watched him for three full games,” detailed Yallop. “We had a good look at him and were able to talk with him and felt good about drafting him. He earned Co-MVP honors from the same conference Sam Garza was in, and we were impressed with that pedigree.”
Very few Supplemental Draft picks are signed to MLS contracts each season, but Diaz Pizarro joins a squad that has two of the more successful players ever to take that avenue to MLS. Both forward Chris Wondolowski and defender Jason Hernandez were selected in the supplemental rounds prior to the 2005 season and have since blossomed into high quality players during their time with the Earthquakes. Diaz Pizarro was well aware of the long odds ahead of him if he were to make the team, but he never let stop him from achieving his dream.
“Coming in I was trying not to think about that because I knew the odds were not good,” said Diaz Pizarro. “But I tried to play as good as I can and show the coaches that I deserve to be here.”
Coach Yallop acknowledged that the Earthquakes newest signing did not come into the team with a wealth of attention, but stated that it was not a factor to him or the rest of the coaching staff the level of background accomplishments brought to bear by his players.
“How they get into the team and come to join us doesn’t matter to me,” said Yallop. Whether we play a lot of money for them or they come as a Supplemental player, I treat them all the same. Hopefully Cesar is one of those guys that if he works hard and listens to the coaching staff and listens to his teammates and knuckles down he could be a good one. Time will tell, but so much is up to Cesar. He has the talent, but hopefully he and put it all together and be a good one for us.”
Diaz Pizarro calls Peruvian International and former Chelsea forward Claudio Pizarro one of his relatives, and he looks to his game for inspiration. At 6’1”, the young forward has the size to be effective in the aerial game, but he also looks very comfortable with the ball at his feet. While with UC Riverside, Diaz Pizarro scored 20 goals and had 8 assists in a four year career — 9 goals and 3 assists coming in his senior season. Now a professional soccer player with the San Jose Earthquakes, what does he hope to achieve in his rookie season?
“Put in lots of hard work,” said Diaz Pizarro, “and score lots of goals.”