New York City native Angela Aguero is a NYCFC Girls Academy product and a member of the U.S. Women's National Team at the youth level. The 18-year-old sits down with NYCFC.com and shares her soccer journey so far, the importance of playing for club and country, and how players like Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan inspire her everyday.
Q: How did you first get into playing soccer?
Angela Aguero (AA): When I was around 4 or 5 years old, my parents decided it was time to put me in sports to keep me active. They put me into soccer, which was super easy because all you need is a ball and a pair of cleats and then you’re off. From the beginning, I loved it right away. I was always chasing the ball. I also did swimming, ballet, but when I was 7 or 8 years old I was playing on a team and the coach of a boys team found me and invited me to play with them. At that point, it wasn’t really about the level yet, it was more about continuing to play and having fun. I pretty much played with the boys until I was 13 years old for a few different clubs here in New York City. When I turned 13, I wasn’t allowed to played with the boys anymore so I joined World Class and then NYCFC and have been playing there ever since.
Q: When did you realize that this was something you wanted to pursue much more seriously?
AA: I remember when I was 9 years old I was watching the 2010 Men’s World Cup, and that’s when it hit me that this is what I really want to do. I just fell in love with the game. It was always fun for me. I never looked at it like have to go work out or exercise. I always looked at it like, “I’m going to go play soccer.” I’ve always looked forward to it. Whenever I had free time, I’d always go play in the backyard. It was never work for me. I always just couldn’t wait to play.
Q: What is your goal within soccer?
AA: Go professional! I’ll be playing at Penn State, so I’ll continue to improve there and continue to represent the national and hopefully make the U-20 World Cup squad next squad. Going pro would definitely be amazing, maybe in Europe.
Q: Another World Cup summer is upon us with the U.S. Women's National Team gearing up for the tournament in France. How did the 2015 Women’s World Cup impact you?
AA: It was huge. I remember watching those games and seeing the United States basically dominate the whole time. Watching the final and seeing Carli Lloyd score 3 goals… and just the spirit the team had and the way they played, it was completely monumental for me. I really looked up to that. The next year I was called into the national team, and that World Cup really pushed me and motivated me to continue to work hard to earn a call into the youth national team. The spirit and work ethic of the team was a huge inspiration.
Q: What was your experience like when you received that first call-up to the USYNT?
AA: My first camp was with the U-15 WNT from May-June of 2016 in Portland. Leading up to that camp, they held a lot of training centers every month to keep the pool training together and keep the level high. I remember getting the call and it was such an honor. You go in there and the level is so competitive. The level is high training with a club team, but when you join the national team it’s the best the players in the country. It was absolutely amazing to play with these girls. You meet your best friends there because you all love the game equally. It’s so amazing to play with your best friends at such a high level.
Q: How important is it for you to represent not only your country, but also the city you've grown up in?
AA: It think it’s super important, especially coming from New York City to wear the NYCFC badge. Not a lot of players come out of New York City, so representing this city is a big deal for me. When you wear that badge, it’s an honor. You’re representing the whole city out of so many girls who play soccer. Same with playing for the United States, you’re representing the whole country. It’s important to continue to work really hard for that and prove yourself so you can represent your country and club.
Q: Who are some of the USWNT players that you admire, both on and off the field and why?
AA: Tobin Heath, that’s my girl. She’s insane. Her skill on the ball and the way she can create opportunities when there seems to be none is absolutely insane. She’s always doing some fancy footwork which I like. Carli Lloyd, she’s another great leader. I trained with Alex Morgan’s coach and he would give me advice on how she played so I’ve always looked up to her. She’s a great finisher. Pretty much the whole team honestly. I think they’re all incredible.
Q: How important do you think this Women’s World Cup and USWNT squad is, especially for young female athletes?
AA: I think it’s amazing. There’s not a lot of representation in women’s sports, especially women’s soccer. A lot of these young girls look up to the professional players. That generation didn’t have the right platform to be as successful, and so they had to fight for it. Seeing them out there fighting for the next generation to have equal opportunity and the best platform to succeed is amazing so more women in sports can be represented, especially in soccer. We need to keep pushing for that. When I used to play with the boys, I’d always get comments from the other teams about me being a girl like, “Oh she’s trash, she’s a girl. Push her around.” But you prove yourself on the field that you can play the game. We do that with the national team, with club teams. It’s important to keep working and showing the world who we are.
Q: Do you have a message to send to the USWNT heading to France?
AA: Take the cup back home! Get that fourth star and play your heart out! They have tough opponents coming up but I think they’re going to do really well. It’s a strong squad.