When the soccer competition TV show Sueno MLS debuted in 2007, its first winner was a 17-year-old Mexican American forward from Orange County named Flores. On Sunday the latest champion was revealed and he, too, is a 17-year-old Mexican American forward from Orange County named Flores.
The first one, Jorge Flores, was from Anaheim while Sunday’s winner, Armando Flores, is from neighboring Santa Ana.
So see? Not so similar after all.
Yet while basking in his victory, Armando said he hopes the differences don’t stop there because Jorge Flores – who changed his surname to Villafana last winter to honor his mother – is in his sixth season in Major League Soccer with Chivas USA. And two months ago he was playing for the U.S. U-23 national team in the Olympic Trials.
Both are goals of Armando’s.
“I’m just getting the chance. I’m probably going to follow in his footsteps,” Armando Flores said of Villafana, who visited with him and gave him some tips last week. “We have the same name so why not?”
The winner of Sueno’s separate competition for goalkeepers was 16-year-old Jimmy Camacho of Riverside – who, ironically, was born in the same Santa Ana hospital where Armando Flores had been delivered months earlier. Both boys once played together on the same youth soccer team.
Contestants in both the goalkeeper and field player nationwide events -- which have been likened to a soccer version of the music reality show"American Idol"-- represent one of three MLS teams, depending on the regional competition in which they took part. Both Flores and Camacho represented Chivas USA so they’ll begin playing with Chivas’ academy team Monday, the first step on the road to an MLS contract.
A field of more than 2,000 youngsters born between May 14, 1994, and April 13, 1998, took part in Sueno MLS, where players were evaluated for various soccer skills. The field is then cut to 18 for a three-day final at the Home Depot Center. The winners were announced Sunday on Univision’s sports entertainment show “Republica Deportiva.”
“There was a lot of good players,” said Armando Flores, who attends Santa Ana Valley High. So winning, he said “was a surprise. A good surprise.”
There is one other thing that separates the two Flores boys other than the cities where they grew up. While Jorge Flores eventually changed his name to Villafana, Armando Flores says his mother’s maiden name is Rodriguez.
“I think I’ll stick with Flores for now,” he said.