Former Galena High star could give Wonders much needed scoring punch
Every morning, Monday-Friday, Ernesto Oliden puts on a hard hat. For almost nine hours, the former Galena High soccer star works construction for Sartorial Masonry in Reno. At around 3:30, Oliden wipes the sweat from his forehead and goes home to his wife, Karla, and 3-year-old son, Ernesto Jr.
Not anymore. He’s having an affair with his first love–soccer.
The Nevada Wonders signed Oliden Monday in an effort to bolster their scoring attack. The former two-time Northern Nevada Offensive Player of the Year should be in the lineup when Nevada plays the California Gold tonight at 8 in Modesto, Calif.
“Signing Ernesto should help us a lot,” said general manager Randy Roser. “He’s got one of the best shots I’ve ever seen.”
Oliden, 22, has played with the Nevada Zephyrs and Northern Nevada Aces. He signed with the Zephyrs when he was just 17 and still a senior at Galena. That decision cost him his college eligibility because Oliden said the Zephyrs had professional players on the team. He wasn’t going to college anyway.
“I didn’t play much my junior or senior year (at Galena),” said Oliden, who earned those player of the year honors as a freshman and sophomore. “My grades weren’t that good. I was so into soccer, grades weren’t important. Now I wish I would have because it could have given me a chance to play in college. Now I have another opportunity.”
Realizing the college dream was just that–an aberration –Oliden played at the highest level he could. And that was the Zephyrs. Five years later, Oliden sees an opportunity with the Nevada Wonders. Charles Oguntoye, a London, England-based agent who is a major part of the Wonders, is looking for players to sign for professional teams in Europe.
“I’ve heard there’s an agent from England and I’m just looking for an opportunity to play over there,” Oliden said. “This is a good opportunity for me and for the younger guys here.”
Oliden played with the Aces last year. But when the chance to play for the Wonders presented itself, he had to do it. At 22, Oliden is reaching an age where professional teams start to look the other away, opting for younger talent. And he doesn’t want to see another dream slip away, one that he lost in high school and one that was never there with the Aces.
“The Aces are just out there to have fun, nothing serious. I don’t want to do that,” Oliden said. “I want a chance to play in Europe.”
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE GOLD
The California Gold is 1-1-2 this season and is coming of a 0-0 tie last Saturday against the San Diego Gauchos. California, which is going into its seventh season as a professional soccer team, opened the 2003 season with a 3-2 loss against San Diego. The Gold split two games with the Utah Blitzz two weeks ago.
FORMER ACES MAKING THEIR WAY TO CARSON
Bernard Morley, an 18-year-old from England, has been nursing an ankle injury the past few weeks but might be healthy for tonight’s game against the Gold. Morley played with the Northern Nevada Aces, a Reno-based pro team, last summer, as did current Wonder Antonio Mora. A few other former Aces might be joining the Wonders in the next few weeks. Alfredo Chavarin, who was one of the better players with the Aces last year, trained with the Wonders on Wednesday.
WHO IS THAT OGUNTOYE
Along with general manager Randy Roser and coach Paul Aigbogun, the other important part of the Nevada Wonders is Charles Oguntoye. Oguntoye is an agent based out of London, England. He will be looking to sign any promising young Nevada players. If a team ever buys the rights to one of those players, the Wonders will get a percentage of the money exchanged. It’s just another way money can be earned for the franchise. Another way is that Oguntoye is working on bringing the Nigerian National Team to the United States for a couple of exhibition games. If that happens, the Wonders will also take a small percentage of the money generated for those games.