Marquette men’s soccer first-year midfielder Edrey Caceres is not one to back down in the face of adversity.
Born in El Salvador, Caceres moved with his family to Houston, Texas at the young age of ten.
“We didn’t know the language, it was a whole different culture, and whole new experiences,” Caceres said. “When I moved to Texas, I didn’t have a team, it was hard. I thought soccer might be over but I didn’t want it to be over. Losing soccer would be unimaginable. My dad was a professional soccer player back in El Salvador, so it’s a family thing.”
At the age of ten, Caceres was invited to try-out for the U11 Houston Dynamo Academy team, where current MU teammate Beto Soto also played before arriving to Marquette.
“When I went to try-out, everyone was speaking English and I was like, ‘what is going on here?’” Caceres said laughing. “Luckily, the U11 coach knew Spanish and he helped me through the whole process. I was just a shy little boy.”
Training with the Dynamos wasn’t the only experience Caceres had in his back pocket before coming to play in Milwaukee.
While playing a tournament for the Dynamos in Florida, Caceres was approached by El Salvador National Team scouts.
“I guess I did really well because they came to talk to me and then a couple months later I got an email inviting me to play at the U23 level,” Caceres said.
Head Coach Louis Bennett commended Caceres on this accomplishment.
“Marquette is a progressive possession team, Edrey epitomizes progressive possession,” Bennett said. “We always knew he was a great player, international games just gave him that extra experience.”
While it wasn’t always easy for Caceres, he begun his journey with the U23 El Salvador National Team during the final months of 2019.
“At first, I was uncomfortable. I wasn’t from El Salvador,” Caceres said. “Playing alongside 21, 22, and 23-year-olds, they couldn’t believe I was 18. It was an amazing experience, when I look back. I never imagined myself playing for the U23 national team, I’m super happy and grateful that had happened to me.”
With six games into the season, Caceres’ is off to a strong start with the Golden Eagles.
After the first week of the season, he was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week.
“It felt really good but I know I have to keep improving on my game,” Caceres said.
So far on the season, Caceres has started all six games while adding a goal and two assists.
“His possession and style fits right in with us (Marquette), from both the attacking side and the defensive,” redshirt junior midfielder Alan Salmeron said. “His stats speak for himself, obviously, and it’s great that he joined us. He adds that little bit of flare and creativity. He’s good on both sides of the ball, he can make those game changing passes.”
Caceres said the veterans on the team have helped him adjust to the college level.
“Coming to a new team is sometimes difficult, but players like Alan (Salmeron), Wegs (Zak Wegner), Zyan (Andrade), and other midfielders helped me,” Caceres said. “I tried to analyze the way they played and the way they communicate, so I could fit into it.”
According to Bennett, Caceres has had no problem adjusting to college ball.
“College can be much more physical, we (coaching staff) only worried how quickly he could adjust, and he has adjusted fantastically … simply because he plays quickly, he understands spaces are limited,” Bennett said.
As a midfielder, Bennett said Caceres has a wide skill set he is able to bring to the team.
“His passing ability, his calmness, his ability to find space for teammates when you don’t think space is there. He also hustles and defends,” Bennett said. “He’s the standard for ball retention. Edrey keeps the ball playing 360 (degrees). He improves the overall expectation of our midfielders.”
As for Caceres’ personality on and off the field, Bennett said he isn’t shy.
“He’s a little quiet but he’s not shy. A nice lad, he enjoys a joke, he’s got a good vibe around him,” Bennett said. “There’s not an ego, there’s a confidence. He just loves to train, and there’s a level of expectation that we have and he’s living up to it, which is fantastic.”
Looking ahead to Caceres’ future at Marquette, Bennett believes his midfield is in good hands for years to come.
“When Edrey does him, he’s definitely one of the best midfield players in the conference, in the region and in the country I think,” Bennett said. “In the future, if he’s the standard we will be very, very good in midfield.”
When it comes to his own personal aspiration, the game of soccer hits home more than what meets the eye.
“Playing soccer at a higher level is one of my dreams of course but I do it for my family and myself,” the midfielder said. “My family sacrificed so much for me, so now that I am able to get a degree at Marquette, to maybe make it pro, and help my family out, that’s what really motivates me.”
This article was written by Ava Mares. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @avamaresMU.