Bryan Dominguez won't play for the U.S. team in the upcoming World Cup, but he's in the pipeline to potentially play in 2014 or 2018. Dominguez, from Atlanta, just returned from the Netherlands, where he played in a tournament with the U-20 national team. After leaving UC Santa Barbara as a freshman to play professionally, the 19-year-old Dominguez plays for Miami FC in a lower-level pro league. He spoke with the AJC this week. Answers were edited for length.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your story, growing up in Cali, Colombia.
A: I was born in the U.S., in Atlanta, and then went back when I was 1 and lived in Colombia for about 10, 11 years, and I came back to Atlanta. ... My parents wanted a better life for me and my sister. I would say that was the main reason, that opportunity.
Q: Do you feel like players in the U.S. have to leave college early or not go in order to give themselves the best chance to develop their game?
A: For me, the longer you stay in college, the longer you miss in learning and getting experience [in soccer] because by the time you get in the league or a team picks you up, you're behind. But in a way, if you stay in college, you get your degree. It's a tough decision. I went for what I do best and what I like doing. That's why I made my decision.
Q: How soon do you want to be playing overseas?
A: I really want to go overseas, but if I could play in the MLS, to go to the MLS, that would be really awesome, as well. Whatever pops up for me, I want to take that step. We'll see what happens.
Q: Living on your own at 19, what do you eat?
A: To be honest, I'm a very big rice eater. I have to have rice for lunch and dinner. Just regular rice and beans, chicken, meat, pasta. That's as far as I can cook. If I can learn to make some other stuff, maybe I'll give you some recipes. Maybe next time it'll be fish. I'll have to have my mom come down, so she can teach me some more.
Q: What's a cool piece of swag you've gotten for playing for the national team?
A: I would say it was the [U-17] World Cup jersey that we got after the tournament. That meant a lot to me. I felt like I had accomplished something, but I still had a lot more to do. I think that was the best one I've gotten so far. Hopefully I'll get the one for the U-20 [World Cup] next year.
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