ISAAC HEATH - Friday, February 12, 2010
A few months ago Michael Hoyos was just another youth player at Estudiantes De La Plata in Argentina fighting to work his way up the ladder but is now suiting up for the first team of the reigning Copa Libertadores champion and playing alongside players like Juan Sebastian Veron.

No, Hoyos was not a budding star on the reserve team fighting to crack into the first team. In fact, he was playing two levels below the reserve team in what is called the quinta when the coaches realized they had a gem and moved him straight up to the first team this past winter.

"It was incredible, because I jumped from the quinta all the way to the first team which is difficult," Hoyos recently explained to YA. "It is amazing because now I finally have the opportunity to live the dream and play with a team like Estudiantes that has a lot of great players like Veron. I really can't believe it."

The young California native made a name for himself quickly in the preseason when he had a stellar outing against club giant Boca Juniors. Hoyos came on as a second half substitute, and just seven minutes in he carried the ball half the length of the field and then blasted a low shot from 30 yards out off the left post and in.

"It was amazing," Hoyos exclaimed. "It was one of my first games on the first team and my first goal, and I was able to score it against one of the best teams in the world, so I don't really have words to say how happy I was."

Understandably, the 18 year old is ecstatic about his new situation, and is relishing the opportunity to learn from stars like Veron, an Argentine international who has played at the likes of Manchester United and Inter Milan among other clubs.

"He (Veron) doesn't talk too much, but he tells you what to do, and gives us all more strength, confidence, and the power to want to succeed," he continued.

Michael is not the only Hoyos at Estudiantes. He and his brother Kevin were born to Argentinean parents and spent the first 15 years or so of their lives in California, and only recently moved to Argentina with their mother three years ago.

Shortly after they arrived, the pair had the opportunity to try out for the club, a grueling trial period that lasted about six months. They made the most of their opportunity, and Michael played for the sexta and the quinta the last two years before making the improbable jump up to the first team.

Because Hoyos holds both Argentinean and US citizenship, he is now joining the ever growing list of US national team prospects that have dual citizenship. Hoyos has spoken with the US U-20 team; however he has yet to represent neither the US nor Argentina.

"They (US U-20) wanted me to come to a team camp and I told them that would be great, but now that I have been doing well here, Estudiantes wanted me to stay around," explained Hoyos, who later added, "I would at least like to go to a camp and train with the US U-20's at some point to see how it is."

While he ultimately does not prefer to represent one country over the other at this time, Hoyos wants to focus on his development for now and let the details take care of themselves.

"I am only 18 right now and I am just starting this career. I am planning on just waiting with patience for an opportunity from either side and I am young so I am not in a hurry."

That attitude will serve him well, as he will have his work cut out for him to continue to see quality playing time on a team of Estudiantes' caliber.

"I want to start some games in the domestic league and then hopefully make the bench and get some time in the Libertadores."

In addition to his immediate goals and his aspirations to represent either the United States or Argentina, Hoyos, like all young players, desires to get a shot across the pond.

"In the future hopefully I will do really well here and then get a call from Europe. That is the dream of any kid."

One certainty for Hoyos is that if he continues to develop at the rate he is, he should have no problem achieving the goals he has set for himself. After all, he has gone from California to Argentina, to the youth team at Estudiantes, all the way to the first team in just three years.