When asked in school: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, a young Adrian Zendejas answered “soccer player“ every time.
Inspired by his father who played and coached soccer, the 21-year-old, Chula Vista native, worked hard to achieve his dream. His first step was playing for his Hilltop High School soccer team, while also having a brief stint with the Nomads SC - a U.S. Soccer Development Academy team - in San Diego.
In 2014, Adrian attended a tryout for the Mexican professional team Club Tijuana, where he earned a one-week trial and would eventually spend three years with the club recording a total of 31 appearances for their U-20 team and making his first team debut in a preseason friendly against Club Leon on July 3, 2015. He was then scouted by John Pascarella – former Sporting KC goalkeeper coach - whom offered Adrian a trial with the Swope Park Rangers. The rest is history.
On June 30, 2016, Adrian officially signed with the Swope Park Rangers recording a perfect 5-0-0 record with three shutouts, thirteen saves and a 0.40 goals against average. Zendejas continued his perfect record during the postseason, having earned two more clean sheets as the Rangers won three straight victories to the USL Cup Final.
“The club is really compact [and] I like that no one feels bigger than the club. That means a lot to this club and to the players. The players need to have a relationship with each other to succeed for the club. That is something I really admire.“
Following a successful inaugural season with the Rangers, Zendejas signed with Sporting Kansas City in December 2016. Kicking off his career with the senior team, Zendejas has appeared twice for the club during the 2017 Desert Diamond Cup while in Tucson for preseason. At the time this article was written, Adrian has not made his official debut for Sporting KC yet.
I watched as Adrian trained to perfect his skills during training that chilly morning, completing drills and learning from fellow goalkeepers Tim Melia and Andrew Dykstra.
“I’m really appreciative I have two great older goalkeepers that can show me the ropes and just teach me a lot of things: how they train and how they take it everyday. I’m still the young guy, so I’m still learning everyday.“
It is an honor for a player to earn a call-up from the USMNT and often is a future goal for several players, including Zendejas.
“I think everyone wants to wear the crest at some point. Hopefully one day I’ll get a call up, if not I’ll be working to get the call up.“
When Adrian is not on the pitch learning from his fellow teammates, he enjoys exploring Kansas City and taking naps. He also looks forward to visiting Seattle, Orlando and traveling across the U.S. for future away games.