There’s a big smile on Ray Serrano’s face as he looks out at the iconic “You’ll Love Tacoma” sign with his feet dug into the earth at Titlow Beach. To be fair, there is almost always a big smile on the Tacoma Defiance forward’s face, especially when soccer is the topic of conversation.
In July, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy recognized Serrano as one of the Western Conference’s Best XI. That would be enough to put a grin on any up-and-coming star’s mug.
Serrano spent most of 2019 with the Sounders Academy U-19 squad and dominated that level. The 17-year-old earned a spot in the West’s Best XI for 2018-19 Academy season after scoring 10 goals in 22 games.
“It felt good. It’s the Best XI for the Western Conference. It’s a big accomplishment for me. I just got to keep playing so that next year I can win it again – keep grinding, keep pushing myself, and keep striving.”
He was also part of the GA Cup Champions Division-winning Sounders U-17 squad. So, what has made Ray such a magnet for winning? Here’s a breakdown of the 17-year-old’s strengths that are responsible for rapidly filling his trophy case.
Serrano counts on technical dribbling to open up space. He always looks for a pass that tears through a backline and is one of the more prolific Defiance players at crossing the ball. A scoring threat with the Academy, Ray is developing into a service provider with Tacoma. He can provide good service in dead ball situations.
With Tacoma’s emphasis on up-field tackling, Serrano is developing into a stronger player when his team does not have the ball. He did win 80% of those tackles at the USL Championship level. On set-pieces, Ray will often be one of the outlet players, or within the wall, rather than have defensive duties.
One of the smaller players on Tacoma Defiance Serrano uses nimble footwork to open up space rather than pure speed.
2 starts | 6 sub appearances | 202 minutes | 0 goals | 0 assists | 3 shots | 2 key passes
Off the Pitch
With Defiance, Serrano was especially active in community endeavors. He made time to visit Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, MetroParks Tacoma day camp, and RAVE Foundation futsal field openings. He always volunteers to make an impact for the youth, even as a youngster himself.
Looking to 2020
Serrano is as ambitious as they come. His Academy success is not the final destination, but it is a substantial step in the Moses Lake product’s journey. Continuing on the path in 2020, Serrano is targeting more individual awards and team success.
“It motivates me. Yes, I signed with Tacoma Defiance, but the goal is to play with the First Team and make my debut at CenturyLink with all those amazing fans. Obviously, that’s the number one goal.”
For more about your 2020 Tacoma Defiance roster: