Every so often to reach a goal an individual must take the unexpected journey. Gustavo Villalobos went through such a journey to arrive at Orange County SC.
He got his start in the NPSL, where he played for FC Hasental. Briggs Palmer, Hasental’s General Manager, had high praise for the talented midfielder.
“Both Eric Warner and I are pleased to see Goose back playing in Southern California. Goose is a dynamic player, technically strong, and a fearsome competitor. Orange County SC has a good team and he should fit in well. With Gustavo supplying many of the goals, FC Hasental qualified for the U.S. Open Cup, and was competitive in the NPSL.”
He did excel for FC Hasental, were he scored fifteen goals and was introduced to the U.S. Open Cup. Villalobos recalled his time with the club with great fondness.
“I was honored to play with such a great group of local talented players and to work with Eric Warner as head coach was fantastic. I believe playing with FC Hasental it prepared me to play in the next level. Physically I was doing the right things but understanding the game, playing with a purpose, and sticking to the philosophy of a club is something that helped me develop as a player.”
From this success, he gambled on himself and moved to Sweden, an exciting yet scary transition. It was his first time moving away from home. Not only was he moving away from home, but he was moving to a whole different country.
He also had to adjust to the weather change. Sweden is known to have cold weather, nothing close to the warm and sunny weather of California. Overall it was a great move, but it wouldn’t be his last move to a new scenario. He eventually decided to set up a new challenge in Malta.
“From Sweden, I moved to Malta,” Villalobos added. “Not knowing where Malta was I took the challenge. I must say Malta is beautiful. After some difficult few days there I completed a contract and signed with Qormi FC. Had a positive half season with them and earned a contract with Pembroke Athleta for the following season. With Pembroke, I had a productive season finishing with fifteen goals and nine assists.”
With the success overseas, Villalobos decided to make a move back to the States and play for the Tulsa Roughnecks of the USL. Compared to his other stops, this one was not in his eyes as successful. Tulsa represented a bit of a rough patch in his promising career, yet soccer always has its ups and downs. From this stop Villalobos took his time at Tulsa as positive and a lesson necessary to improve as a player. This opened the window to the U.S. professional soccer market and helped him move forward, ending up at Orange County SC.
“To become a professional player is what most soccer players grow up dreaming about,” Villalobos concluded. “I’m extremely grateful to be doing what I love. I work to get better every day, anxiously waiting for the next match, celebrating victories, and I hate the sport when in defeats. All these factors are what makes being a professional so fantastic.”
So far in 2017, Villalobos has sustained a starting role with OCSC playing in all ten games this season and contributing two goals. He’s been a key contributor as his team pushes towards a USL title. It is quite clear that the 25-year-old has a bright future, having learned many lessons from a globetrotting journey in the beautiful game.