Harmon, Guam- Marcus Lopez joins the growing group of members of the Matao, Guam men’s national football team, playing at the professional level after recently accepting to play with Pachanga Diliman FC, a Division I team in the Philippines’ United Football League.
Lopez, a forward with the Matao, departed to the Philippines Tuesday evening.
“Playing at the professional level has been a dream for me all my life,” Lopez said before departing to Manila Tuesday. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity and I look to capitalize on this and every future opportunity that comes my way. Right now, Pachanga Diliman FC is in the middle of the pack and I’m hoping that alongside my Matao teammates Ian Mariano and captain Jason Cunliffe, as well as my new teammates, I can help bring the team to the top.
“Although the UFL is a fairly new professional football league, it is growing rapidly and has a bright future. I’m excited to be playing in the Philippines – it is a great way for me to get game experience while playing at a high level,” the 21-year-old added.
Lopez is the latest member of the Matao signed to play at the professional level and the fourth to play in the UFL in the Philippines. Matao fullback and midfielder Jonahan Romero currently is in his second season with Kaya FC, another Division I team in the UFL. Cunliffe joined Pachanga Diliman FC in late 2012 and Mariano signed with the professional team earlier this year.
“I am very happy for Marcus,” said Matao head coach Gary White. “Gaining high-level game experience is just what he needs at this moment in his development as a player. The maturity and professional level experience he will gain will help solidify his place in the Matao and also contribute to Guam’s continuing international football success.”
Lopez started playing football when he was four years old with the Wings FC in the Robbie Webber Youth Soccer League, following his brother Joey Lopez, Jr. and immediately fell in love with the sport, he said.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank Jesus because without the Lord and faith in my life to guide me through my journey, none of this would be possible,” Marcus Lopez said. “Secondly, I would like to thank my dad, Joey Lopez, Sr. and my mom Marie Lopez for supporting me throughout my whole career and providing anything I needed to help me succeed in football. Also, I would like to thank my brothers Joey Jr., Micah and Dominic for always supporting me mentally with advice and training me physically, even if it inconvenienced them. I would like to also thank Kun Ho Rhee for spending two to three hours at a time with me for five to six days a week focusing on training technique and repetition. I also would like to thank my childhood and first coach Melinda Rotcher and youth coach Jimmy Okuhama for pushing me to limits I never knew I could reach.
“Finally, I would also like to thank GFA President Richard Lai and GFA and for every opportunity that they have provided me over the years, such as traveling all over the world to play at the international level against other countries, and to the Gaffer (White) who has changed my football mentality and overall game for the better. I am humbled to be a student and player of the Gaffer and look forward to continue improving my game,” Lopez added.
Lopez most recently played against Chinese Taipei in the AFC Challenge Cup Group A qualifier in Yangon, Myanmar, helping the team demolish its opponent 3-0.