Yangel Herrera Venezuela U20s

La Historia: Yangel Herrera

In a country where baseball dominates the sporting headlines, NYCFC midfielder found a soccer oasis in his childhood home of Aragua de Maturin, Venezuela.

"All of the kids my age were playing soccer," says Herrera. 

"I started to play on the streets, on fields. That's where my passion for the game was born."

After moving there with his mother at the age of 10, he immediately began hunting down goals—and his dreams.

Principios

"When I first started to play, I was actually a number 9, a forward," recalls Herrera.

"When anyone starts playing, it's pretty much the first position you like the most. You like scoring goals. That's where I started."

Herrera began his professional career in the youth ranks of second division club Monagas SC in Maturin, signing his first professional contract in 2014. That year, he played with the reserves. It wasn't until the following season that he would make his first team debut. His impact was felt immediately.

"Six months later, I was able to help the team ascend to the first division," he remembers.

Soon after, he caught the eyes of youth national team coaches, and made his debut just a year later in the 2016 Copa America Centenario. 

Those performances paid off in a big way. In January of this year, he signed with Manchester City, from whom he was loaned to NYCFC for the 2017 season. Just like everywhere else he's been, Yangel fits right in with the very best.

Maturin

Quick Facts

Maturin is the capital of the Venezuelan state of Monagas and is home to over 400,000 people. After originally being founded by Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries in the 17th century, Maturin developed further following a public health campaign aimed at stopping mosquitoes from spreading malaria, after being named the Monagas state seat in 1909.

More recently, Maturin has benefited from its usefulness in the oil industry, upon which Venezuela's economy is reliant. 

The city is home to many Roman Catholic churches dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as eight prominent private and public universities. 

Famous Maturinians

Maturin has produced numerous artists, musicians, poets, and academics, including sculptor Eloy Palacios, who produced monumental works in Caracas and Maracaibo. Felix Armando Nunez, a renowned essayist, poet, and teacher who impacted communities in Venezuela in Chile throughout the early and middle 20th century.

Venezuelan Football

Traditionally, Venezuela is a baseball country, but more recently, an upswing in soccer's popularity has made for an increase in young footballing talent and accomplishments for the national teams. 

Big Clubs

Venezuela's most prominent club is Caracas FC, who have won the Primera Division 11 times, most recently in 2010. In 2009, they recorded their best-ever finish at the Copa Libertadores, reaching the quarterfinals. 

Also finding success in the league has been San Cristobal's Deportivo Tachira, who have won the league eight times. Tachira is the only club in Venezuela that has never been relegated from the top flight, and they hold the all-time record for points earned in the Primera Division. 

Recently, they followed up a Primera title in 2015 with a second-placed finish in 2016, but failed to make it beyond the first round of the Copa Libertadores this year. 

National Team

Historically, Venezuela's international successes have been few and far between. La Vinotinto (The Burgundy) remain the only South American team to never qualify for a FIFA World Cup, and look set to continue that into 2018. 

However, despite their historical lack of international prowess, the country's younger generations are among the most promising that Venezuela has ever produced. This past summer, Yangel Herrera captained the U-20s to the finals of the World Cup. 

At the senior level, their best performance came during the 2011 Copa America, where they beat Chile in the quarterfinals before losing a 5-3 shootout to Paraguay in the semifinals.  

***

Join Yangel and the rest of the team on Saturday, September 9 at Yankee Stadium as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Get your tickets down.

Topics: