SAN ANTONIO - On June 17, San Antonio FC midfielder Devin Vega scored the second goal of his professional career. It will likely be one of the most important goals of his career.
It was the San Antonio native’s first goal in the city where his love for soccer began on the Southeast Side.
“Scoring in front of my hometown, in front of my parents, friends,” Vega said. “It’s an unbelievable moment for me.”
FEATURE @SanAntonioFC @23dvega_ on journey home, family,being inspiration to youth, clubs MLS aspirations->https://t.co/VRfozpKwI4 #OurClub pic.twitter.com/wnO3PAkNn1 — RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) June 30, 2017
Vega is only 18 years old and in his first season with SAFC. He has played a vital part in the club’s early season success, appearing in 10 league matches. His path back home hasn’t always been clear.
At 15 years old, Vega was selected to the U.S. Soccer Federation’s U-17 residency program and moved to the IMG Academy in Florida.
The decision was difficult for Vega and his family, but at the time, a necessary move for his professional career. He did not stay away from the Lone Star State for long.
In 2015, Vega moved to the Dallas area to play for FC Dallas Academy, one of the premiere developmental academies in the U.S.
It was during this time Vega learned some frightening news. His younger brother Dylan was diagnosed with cancer.
The news crushed Vega and his family. He debated returning to San Antonio, but at the wishes of his brother and parents, stayed in North Texas.
Vega excelled at the academy and while playing with a heavy heart, helped the club win the 2016 Under 17/18 championship.
It wasn’t long until his hometown came calling. San Antonio FC signed Vega during the off-season, marking his first professional contract.
“Coming back home is a big plus for me and my family. Making that decision was a tough one, but I’m glad to be here and competing everyday with these guys that help me get better,” Vega said.
The move has been a success, but not just on the field. Vega’s younger brother is now 11 years old and in remission.
Vega says Dylan should be done with his treatment next month and having a close-knit support system during this difficult period has made all the difference in the world to his brother and family.
Vega is one of two San Antonio natives on the team. Warren High School alum Maxi Rodriguez is the other.
They took separate paths to get to SAFC, but represent the type of success stories that young soccer players in San Antonio can look up to.
“I think I have to set the example. I think that’s everyone’s dream,” Vega said. “If you are from San Antonio, you want to play for your hometown, doing that right now, it’s an amazing feeling and I know they look up to me so I have to prove myself everyday and try to help them get better.”
Vega says his goal is not only to help young players in the area and win a USL title this year, but continue to put San Antonio on the soccer map as the club makes a run at becoming a Major League Soccer franchise.
“Obviously it’s still growing. Every fan we get, every single game they are supportive, they are loud, the atmosphere is amazing. We’re blessed to have them,” Vega said. “We are MLS ready and hopefully in a couple of years we get that bid.”
It remains to be seen how long Vega stays with San Antonio FC. Professional soccer is a business and career decisions must be made on a year to year basis.
For now, Vega is happy being back home with friends and family, and in the city that cultivated his passion for the beautiful game.
“San Antonio is such a beautiful city,” Vega said. “I’m blessed to come back here.”
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