Carrillo capitalizes on El Salvador opportunity
El Salvador’s Derby Carrillo (green jersey) in CONCACAF Gold Cup action against Curacao on July 16, 2017, in Denver, Colorado, USA. (Photo: AFP)

DENVER, Colorado -- Derby Carrillo remembers attending soccer matches as a child with his father Rafael Carrillo in California.  The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Rose Bowl, even Titan Stadium in Fullerton.  They would go anywhere to watch a game.

Mexico-United States. El Salvador-Guatemala. Mexico-El Salvador. Just a few combinations of teams they watched.

“Those are the games growing up you’d go to,” said Carrillo.  “You’d have your idols…Raul Diaz Arce, Mauricio Cienfuegos.  Those are people you looked up to and now being a kid on this side of the spectrum, hopefully, there are kids that can look up to us and we can try and give a good image.”

The 6-foot-3 El Salvador goalkeeper, now 29-years-old, is establishing his own identity.  He doesn’t have to watch anymore.  The bilingual kid, who grew up in La Mirada, California, made his first start for La Selecta in a 2-0 win over Curacao in the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Sports Authority Field.

“It was everything,” expressed Carrillo about the game.  “Being a kid from LA, anybody can dream about this opportunity and being able to be in front of your home crowd, even the Mexican fans, people that probably have known me since I was a little kid growing up in the city leagues in LA.  It’s absolutely a dream come true.”

Carrillo, who plays for Iceland’s IBV, submitted a highlight-reel display, saving a penalty kick in the 43rd minute.  He dove to his right to catch Gevaro Nepomuceno’s attempt.

El Salvador head coach Eduardo Lara was full of praised for his custoduan.

“During the penalty kick, I looked to the sky and thought that God was going to give this man another chance,” the 57-year-old Colombian remarked.  “Thankfully, he did with that key save at an important time.  It’s good for him so now people in El Salvador can have confidence in him.”

And there could be added confidence after Carrillo’s first win.

“Wanting to play at this level is something I’ve always dreamed about,” finished Carrillo.  “Thankfully, the opportunity was given with El Salvador. I always said I’d play for the first team that would give me an opportunity.”