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Where are They Now? Marcelo Balboa

Sep 2, 2020

SAN DIEGO – is launching a new series catching up with former Aztec greats. First up is former men's soccer All-American Marcelo Balboa (1988-89).

Balboa came to San Diego State after playing two years at Cerritos College. He was a two-time All-American for the Aztecs and helped SDSU make the NCAA Tournament in both 1988 and 1989. SDSU posted a combined record of 29-8-7 in Balboa's two years and he was induced to the Aztec Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.

Following his time at SDSU, Balboa played professionally in Mexico and the U.S. until 2002, spending most of his time with the Colorado Rapids of the MLS (1996-2001).

On the international stage, Balboa became the first American to earn 100 caps with the U.S. National team and played in three world cups (1990, 1994 & 1998). Balboa was named the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 1992 and 1994 and has been inducted into both the National Soccer Hall of Fame and the Colorado Hall of Fame, in addition to the Aztec Athletics Hall of Fame.

Balboa has been broadcasting since 2003 and has covered the Colorado Rapids for Altitude TV the past 13 years. He coached his sons, Owen and Nicholas, at Monarch High School before becoming the head coach for the Colorado Rapids Development Academy's U14 squad.

Balboa resides in Superior, Colorado with his Cindy [Sullivan] Balboa, who ran cross country at San Diego State. What are some of your favorite memories from your time at SDSU?
Balboa: I went to [Cerritos] junior college first then [SDSU head coach] Chuck Clegg recruited me to go to San Diego State. I was already playing [on an amateur contract] for the San Diego Nomads, so it was a good situation for me because I already knew the area. It was great times and we had players such as [Aztec hall of famers] Kyle Whittemore and Eric Wynalda plus future professionals Jeff Betts and [goalkeeper] Bryan Finnerty. Soccer wasn't huge back then, but it was up and coming, and Chuck was recruiting a team that was going to compete for a championship and 'How can you not enjoy where San Diego State is located?' When you look back at your professional career, what are you most proud of?
Balboa: That I was able to retire on my own terms. I've been blessed and have had some pretty interesting moments in my career with being able to play in World Cups and All-Star games. It all started for me at San Diego State because I didn't have wonderful grades and Chuck opened the door for me and took a chance on me because academically I wasn't the best student in the world. Once that door was open, I knew I had to prove to everyone that I belonged academically. That kind of set the groundwork for me as far as realizing how much work I had to put in to accomplish what I wanted, which was to play professional soccer. How did you get into broadcasting after your playing career?
Balboa: I basically got thrown into broadcasting. When I retired, there was guy from MLS that called me and told me that Mark Cuban was starting a company called HDNet based out of Colorado and they wanted me to be their analyst. I told them no initially. I just wanted to take some time away from soccer and enjoy my retirement. A week later they came back and asked me to try it and if I didn't like it after a few games, no problem. So, I said sure because it wasn't really a risk. I absolutely loved it and have been doing it ever since. It's an opportunity for me to go to practices and see how coaches manage. It's been great, absolutely wonderful. You eventually got into coaching. While you were playing, did you ever envision yourself being a coach?
Balboa: I did not think I would be a coach. I got started coaching my own kids because I wanted to spend more time with them – the car rides to practice and during the games. The more I did it, the more I started enjoying it. When my kids left and graduated high school, I didn't know if I was going to keep coaching because I only did it because I really loved spending time with them. Next thing you know, I started running a club team as the executive director and it just kept steamrolling and eventually I got offered to coach for the Rapids' development academy. I didn't think I'd be coaching this long, but I love it. What advice would you give to youth players who want to play in college or professionally?
Balboa: Everyone has a different pathway. Not everyone's path is going to be through the MLS draft, so the advice I would give is, 'Be patient and find a pathway that works for you.' Whether in the USL or semi-pro, work every day, work harder than anyone else and keep the faith because you never know. All it takes is one coach to see you play and believe in you. There's always a pathway.