Since he was a small child, Juan Herrera-Perla’s dream was to play professional soccer. This dream finally came to fruition last December when he signed with the Las Vegas Lights FC.
The Las Vegas Lights FC are an expansion team for the United States Soccer League.
“When I first got here (Las Vegas Lights FC) it was so surreal, I couldn’t believe it,” Herrera-Perla says. “But, I treat this like there is no tomorrow because tomorrow is not promised. I treat it like it might be the last day I’m here. Giving it my all every single practice.”
The journey began for Herrera-Perla when he recently decided on a whim to attend tryouts for the team. With high hopes, he traveled to Las Vegas and went through the process of try-outs. Little did he know that this decision would greatly impact the rest of his life.
Herrera-Perla moved from El Salvador to Dallas at a young age and showed promise as a young athlete. In high school, he played for the FC Dallas Academy and in 2012, he was a part of one of the championship-winning teams.
Herrera-Perla was determined to play professional soccer at any cost. In fact, he was so focused on his dream, he began to neglect other areas in his life. “I had Division One options all around the U.S., but my laziness and ignorance lead to terrible grades my last couple years of school,” he says.
Eventually, the schools that were once interested in him, were no longer able to accept him because his test scores were too low. Herrera-Perla had quickly lost all hope and was convinced that his dream of playing professional soccer was no longer a possibility.
However, all hope would soon be restored when he received a call from one of his FC Dallas coaches, who is now the head coach at SAGU, Coach Clementin Oancea. “We have a great opportunity here,” Coach Oancea said. “Come and check out this school.”
Coach Clementin and many others successfully fought for his acceptance into the program. In Fall 2013, Herrera-Perla became a lion and redshirted his freshman year on the Men's Soccer Team.
Herrera-Perla’s college career was not always easy, specifically his two ACL injuries. With the faithfulness of God and the support of his family, girlfriend, and the Men’s Soccer Team, his humbling journey led him to where he is now. Not only is Juan Herrera-Perla a professional soccer player, but he will also be the first in his family to graduate from college.
When asked why he wants to tell his story, Herrera-Perla said, “There are a lot of people on our team that will be the first to go to university and the first to graduate. So, something that I really want to let people know is that dreams do come true. Going to university and graduating is a big thing and it’s possible whenever they put the effort into it.”
Herrera-Perla expressed a deep appreciation for the SAGU Men’s Soccer Team and coaching staff, who helped to develop each individual player and inspired them to work hard, not just on the field, but in every area of life.
Juan Herrera-Perla is now playing as a Center back for the team and resumes his studies through SAGU’s Distance Education program. He is residing in Nevada as he continues to pursue his lifelong dream in professional soccer.
“I give all glory to God, he was the one that helped me get through this situation and all these obstacles that I’ve had,” Herrera-Perla said.
To learn more about the Las Vegas Lights FC, click here .