New York Cosmos forward Andres Flores growing as a player and person
Andres Flores has a simple rule, a personal creed that has paid dividends for himself as a professional soccer player and the New York Cosmos.
"The challenge is to have a better season than the one before," he said this week, as he and the team prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a much-anticipated regular-season showdown on Saturday evening. The ONE World Sports broadcast will be streamed live on AOL.com at 7 p.m. ET.
"I always try to be better and try to be one of the best players on the team. I try to always be one of the best on my team. I try to always help the team get goals and get passes and I'm always trying to help my team win."
So far, so good for the 25-year-old midfielder, who has recorded a goal and two assists in 13 games while showing immense improvement. His steady growth has helped the Cosmos stake their claim to third place with 14 points in the North American Soccer League entering the weekend.
Flores is a attack-minded midfielder from San Salvador, El Salvador who first signed with the club on loan from El Salvadorian side Turín-FESA in July 2014. After a succesful loan spell, it was announced that Flores had made a permanent move to New York in December 2014.
Nicknamed "Ruso" in El Salvador, Flores captained his country's national team to a fourth place finish in the 2014 Copa Centroamericana. He debuted for El Salvador's senior squad in a March 2008 friendly against Trinidad and Tobago.
Flores began his youth career with Academia Chelona and moved to Argentina's River Plate in 2006, where he spent three years. In 2009 Flores returned to El Salvador with A.D. Isidro Metapán, where he made over 60 appearances and led the club to multiple Primera División titles. In 2012, he joined Viborg FF in Denmark for one year on loan before returning to Metapán.
"It has been a really nice experience for me as a professional because I've learned a lot of things," he said. "We have been through a lot of things like good things and bad things, but overall, I think it has been a really nice experience to play against really huge players, really huge national teams. It has been a very, very, very nice experience.
"The biggest difference is here in the U.S., you have everything, like, you're the best at everything. Back home in El Salvador, we don't have all the things you have here, so that's a huge difference. Talking about soccer, here you play against very good players that have a lot of experience in Europe or in the U.S. or they have a lot of quality, but you have to always give your best."
More than anything, though, he's living out his dream -- and having fun doing so.
"I've been playing soccer since I was four or five. I've always loved soccer, so I think my largest motivation has been to reach my dreams and trying to be a professional soccer player and make my family proud of me," he said. "That was my dream, I always fought for that. I was always training, I was always working for that, so I really wanted to play."