Player spotlight

With attention from the USMNT, Alan Soñora readies for 2022

Alan Sonora enjoyed a breakout year in 2021 with Independiente - historically one of the biggest clubs in Argentina. He will now look to continue his momentum in 2022 while also pushing for his first ever U.S. call-up at any level. Those hopes were boosted recently by a call from Gregg Berhalter. ASN's Arch Bell reports.
BY Arch Bell Posted
January 25, 2022
5:00 AM
WITH EVERY United States Men’s National Team roster announcement, there comes a gnashing of teeth from fans wondering why X or Y player was not selected by Head Coach Gregg Berhalter.

In the last six months one of those players who has become a favorite of the “What abouts?” is Alan Soñora, a silky-smooth 23-year-old left-footed midfielder with Argentine club Independiente.

The New Jersey-born Soñora emerged as a starter for El Rojo last season in the Primera Division, scoring four goals in 19 games, while also leading all players in passing accuracy in Argentina’s top flight with a 90.1% completion rate from 798 total passes. 

An official call-up from Berhalter is yet to happen, but there is now confirmation to ASN from both the player and U.S. Soccer that there has been contact between the two.

“Yes, [Berhalter] called. I was speaking with him, speaking with several assistants, Nico Estevez, about the December training camp and if I would be able to go, but I knew that I was still in my season with Independiente,” said Soñora to ASN.

“But it’s still really nice that the national team, the coach and his assistants call you and that you know that they are watching you. I just need to keep improving and hope for the invitation.

“When he called, he spoke well of me. The inconvenience was me not being able to go because of the Independiente matches. They also talked about if I could go to the January camp, but it was left there.

“The fact that the coach called motivates you. It tells you that you are doing things well and so I just have to keep doing things well to have the chance,” added Soñora.

Soñora also divulged that several teams from MLS kicked the tires to see about potentially luring the playmaker to play in his birth country, but no formal offer was ever made. It is just as well for Soñora, who is firmly focused on what lies ahead in 2022 for Independiente.

“We have three competitions this season. Copa Sudamericana, Copa Argentina and the domestic league. It’s wonderful to play in the Copa Sudamericana again. International tournaments are very important for this club. Independiente is one of the biggest clubs in Argentina, with a lot of history and demands that you fight in all the competitions that you play,” said Soñora.

Soñora’s breakout second half of 2021 came on the heels in which he barely received any playing time under old boss Julio Cesar Falcioni in the first half of the year. Yet injuries and absences opened the door for Soñora midway through and he grasped the opportunity with both hands. Soñora credits his old coach for keeping him ready when his chance came.

“In the first half of last year I was not able to play a lot, but I was lucky to be on a team with Falcioni there, who made me train, he supported me a lot, because when a player doesn’t play, it’s difficult. I also had the support of my parents to keep going, so I always trained and I always prepared for whenever my opportunity came to play, I would do it as well as possible. Thankfully, Falcioni gave me a chance and I was able to play,” said Soñora.

Falcioni is now gone from Independiente, replaced by Eduardo Dominguez, a former Los Angeles Galaxy player who earned plaudits for guiding Colon to the most unlikely of crowns when they captured the 2021 Copa Diego Armando Maradona, the club’s first ever title.

Through three preseason matches under Dominguez, Soñora appears in mid-season form, already scoring a goal in a 2-1 win over River Plate last Friday.

“We’ve started with a new coach, we’re still in the process of being in preseason, which is very hard. Now that we’re playing games though, we are starting to loosen up more, finding our football rhythm and getting better each time.

“When a new coach arrives, everyone starts from zero, we’re all in the same spot. My objective is continue playing, continue growing and try to be in the starting XI.

“I think from Eduardo people can expect an Independiente side that is a protagonist in games. Eduardo wants an intense football, sometimes direct, sometimes positional depending on how the game is. We’ve been working the last two weeks with him so we’ve only just recently started,” said Soñora.

Unfortunately for the Soñora family and USMNT fans, there will be no possibility of a ‘Clásico Soñora’ in the 2022 regular season against older brother and Banfield striker Joel Soñora, who played in the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup with the U.S.

Independiente and Banfield find themselves in different groups for the 2022 season, so the long-awaited brother vs. brother and first ever U.S. player vs. U.S. player in Argentina will have to wait.

“Banfield are in the other group, so we won’t be playing against them this year. Hopefully some day it will happen because it would be wonderful,” concluded Soñora.

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