Colombian soccer star's son playing in U.S.

Santiago Asprilla, son of former Colombian international soccer star Faustino Asprilla, is playing club soccer for Charlotte United, which is competing this week at the Disney Soccer Showcase. Sheldon Shealer/ESPNHS

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Santi Asprilla tries not to call too much attention to himself. The 18-year-old senior speaks softly, often with short sentences followed by a head nod or shoulder shrug.

He's a bit guarded, and understandably so.

Asprilla is the son of former Colombian international soccer star Faustino Asprilla.

The younger Asprilla lives with his mother in North Carolina and recently joined the Charlotte United FC club team, which competes this week at the Disney Soccer Showcase.

Santi Asprilla is happy to talk about his father's success when asked, but otherwise he keeps a low profile. In fact, Charlotte United coach Michael Magno said he's certain several of his club teammates have no idea that Santi's father played in two World Cups, an Olympics and was voted the world's sixth-best player in 1996.

"People expect me to be like him," Santi said. "But I’m not. Well, maybe I'm like him in speed."

Santi, whose full name is Santiago, is a forward like his father. However, Santi is more of a target player at the top of Charlotte United's formation. His father was an outside attacking player.

Santi and his mother moved to the United States from Colombia when he was in third grade. It was about that time he began to understand his father's accomplishments. At the time, his father -– who lives in Colombia -- was closing out a 16-year professional career that took him to seven countries, including stints with Newcastle United in England and Parma in Italy.

Santi said he's only ever seen video of his father's play, and summarized him as "very, very good." Santi says he has pictures of his father in Newacastle and Parma jerseys on his bedroom wall.

The younger Asprilla embarked on his own soccer path in the U.S., playing for local teams and ultimately his high school. This fall, he scored 20 goals and had 15 assists while leading Ashbrook (Gastonia, N.C.) to a 16-4-4 record, 12-0 in the conference. He earned all-conference and all-region honors. Since joining Charlotte United in August, he has begun to receive college interest from a few small NCAA Division I programs and several local NCAA Division II schools. He said he's happy to live in the U.S. and wants to study sports medicine.

Santi said he last saw his father this summer when he visited Colombia. During Santi's stay, he got to train with the Cafa under-20 team, which his father is coaching. He said his father has never had the chance to see him play in person in the U.S.

On this particular day at the Disney Soccer Showcase, his mother was present as he scored Charlotte United's lone goal.

"He knows I'm playing, but he hasn't seen me," Santi said. "Maybe, one time, he'll see me."