Emilio Orozco joined Mexico UANL Tigres straight out of high school. Now he's back in the States, for at least the summer.
Miguel Ibarra's goal was to make a Major League Soccer roster. He'll continue working toward that in American soccer's second division.
They're among 16 players with local ties in the North American Soccer League, an eight-team outfit that opened its season Saturday with clubs on the East Coast, in the Midwest and in Canada and the Caribbean. Eight of them, including Orozco and Ibarra, are from Southern California. Three more played college ball here, and five others have spent time with the Galaxy, Chivas USA or L.A. Blues.
Orozco, a wing-back from Oxnard (Oxnard HS) who starred for San Fernando Valley youth club Real So Cal, joined the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on loan from Tigres, where he has played in the youth ranks and for the club's under-20 team.
His cousin, Moises Orozco (Oxnard/Oxnard HS) -- a playmaker with U.S. national team aspirations who also is with Tigres -- was on trial with Toronto FC during MLS's preseason.
Ibarra (Lancaster/Lancaster HS) was drafted by the Portland Timbers during January's MLS supplemental draft, and he joined the Minnesota Stars after he was released from camp. The playmaker joins former UC Irvine teammate Amani Walker and three other local players on the Stars' roster.
Another UC Irvine-bred rookie, goalkeeper Andrew Fontein, is with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Two Chivas USA draft picks are in the league: Cal State Fullerton's Kevin Venegas (Lakewood/Los Alamitos HS), a midfielder with Minnesota, and German defender Fabian Kling, who is with expansion team San Antonio Scorpions.
More than three dozen players with MLS ties are in the NASL, including former D.C. United forward Nicolas Addlery, who scored the lone goal in Puerto Rico Islanders' victory over Tampa Bay, and former Chicago Fire standout Andy Herron, whose goal gave Fort Lauderdale a 1-0 win over FC Edmonton. The other two opening games -- San Antonio at Atlanta Silverbacks and Carolina RailHawks at Minnesota -- were scoreless draws.
Here's a full list of players with local ties in the NASL (with hometown/local high school and colleges, and local adult clubs):
G Lance Parker, Chivas USA
FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS
M Alfonso Motagalvan (UC Santa Barbara), Ventura County Fusion
D Emilio Orozco (Oxnard/Oxnard HS)
M Patrick Otte (Thousand Oaks/Thousand Oakjs HS), Ventura County Fusion
D Jack Stewart (Torrance/South Torrance HS)
F Devin Del Do (Valencia/Hart HS and Cal State Northridge), Orange County Blue Star/San Fernando Valley Quakes
D Kevin Friedland (Irvine/Woodbridge HS)
M Miguel Ibarra (Lancaster/Lancaster HS and UC Irvine)
M Kevin Venegas (Lakewood/Los Alamitos HS and Cal State Fullerton), Chivas USA
F Amani Walker (UC Irvine)
TAMPA BAY ROWDIES
G Andrew Fontein (UC Irvine)
M Keith Savage, Chivas USA
D Josh Suggs, L.A. Blues
PUERTO RICO ISLANDERS
M Kevin Harmse, Galaxy/Chivas USA
D Fabian Kling, Chivas USA
M Tyler Wilson (Chino Hills/Chino Hills HS and Mt. San Antonio College/UC Riverside)