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San Jose Earthquakes Open Tryouts: A Field Of Dreams.

The paths to MLS are myriad - expansion drafts, superdrafts, transfers. Open tryouts are often the only chance for players outside of the development mainstream to show off their skills to a professional soccer team. The Earthquakes have yet to sign a player through the open tryouts, but one Quakes fan is helping a young Brazilian defender try and change that statistic.

Lyndsay Radnedge | Center Line Soccer

The 2015 Earthquakes season is almost upon us with the senior squad reporting to the training facility in just a couple of weeks.  Before then, the Earthquakes coaching staff will put up to 200 hopefuls from all over the world through the wringer at the Open Tryouts (Mustang Soccer Center in Danville; 8 AM through 1 PM on Sunday January 25th).

Participants will have the opportunity to make the club's first team or the Quakes Premier Development League team - the freshly minted Burlingame Dragons.  Each player will be on the field for a pair of 30-minute scrimmages, with eagle-eyed scouts from the club on site to evaluate each player.

As far as making the roster of a professional soccer team, this is by far one of the longest shots a player has - in fact, no player has ever been signed to a contract by the San Jose Earthquakes. But the candidates will come to their field of dreams, and they will give it their best - perhaps only - shot.

For one hopeful, Quakes fan Phil Luna, has stepped in to help out, raising funds to bring out a young Brazilian defender from Crowley Community College in Kansas.  The grandly named 22-year old Luiz Claudio Lodino Nicomedes Junior, is listed as 6'0", and 184 lbs, which Luna attests is mostly muscle.  Fate brought the two together when their flight was delayed in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup.

"I met Luiz this summer on my way home from Brazil. He's a great guy. We met as we were trying to book a place to stay for the night. He spoke Portuguese and English, so he helped me and a couple of other friends out." The pair kept in touch, and now Luna is paying the favor forward: "[I wanted] to fund him because he is a really good-hearted guy, eats and trains right - pure muscle, Brazilian, and young, [the sort of player] the Earthquakes fail to find.  At the least, I'm hoping that with this trip a University out here will hear about him or see him and create an opportunity for him."

According to the Cowley athletics web site, Lodino, a Health and Physical Education major, has provided the Tigers men's soccer team with "stellar defense and strong leadership. Serving as a team captain, Lodino has helped the Tigers remain in contention for a spot in the playoffs."  Sunday's tryout will determine whether Lodino has the potential for a career with the Earthquakes.