In a revealing conversation with Bolivian journalist Deyna Daza Rojas, a critical perspective on the presence and contribution of Bolivian players in Major League Soccer (MLS) was presented. Deyna Daza, known for her work at Parada Deportiva and Gol Sports in Bolivia, offered valuable insights into the influence of these players on Bolivian soccer and their impact on the international stage.
Discussing the issue of the major contributions of Bolivian players in the MLS, Daza Rojas highlighted the notable figure of Marco Antonio Etcheverry, whose performance in the 1994 World Cup elevated him to an iconic status in Bolivian soccer. However, she underscored the current gap, with the absence of players possessing comparable playing quality. This raises concerns about the lack of talent development capable of effectively representing Bolivia in foreign leagues.
“Well, the player who contributed the most to Bolivian soccer is Marco Antonio Etcheverry, one of the figures of the Bolivian national team who went to the 1994 World Cup. Nowadays, we don’t have a player who has the same quality of play. Other players like Bruno Miranda, Cristian Machado, and Jairo Quinteros are currently playing in the Bolivian league. They are also players in the national team”, said Deyna Daza Rojas to MLS Multiplex.
Furthermore, Deyna also expressed concerns about how the recent presence of Bolivian players in the MLS has affected the global perception of Bolivian soccer. The lack of opportunities for these players in the MLS and their subsequent return to the Bolivian league have raised doubts about the competitiveness of Bolivian soccer on the international level.
“In recent years, the players who went to the MLS were not considered in various games, and that’s why some returned to play in Bolivia due to lack of opportunities. This undoubtedly leads to the belief that the Bolivian player is not at the same level to play in foreign leagues and that the level of Bolivian soccer is not good either.”
Regarding the distinct characteristics brought by Bolivian players to the MLS, Rojas mentioned skills such as teamwork, offensive ability, dribbling, and precision in passing. However, she raised the need for additional effort from the players to adapt to the faster game pace and pressure in the league, which represents a significant challenge for new talents.
“Bolivian players have teamwork skills, offensive ability, dribbling, and precision in passes. Well, in recent years, few Bolivian players have gone to the MLS. The last case was that of Jairo Quinteros, the current defender of Club Bolívar, who was there in 2020 and played only 4 matches. It’s in this respect that players are trying to improve their performance in the league to be able to play in another league. A player who enters the MLS has to work twice as hard compared to his counterparts. It’s a different environment, a style of play to which he must adapt to always be called up. Also, the speed and pressure in MLS games.”
Regarding the legacy left by Bolivian players in the MLS, such as Etcheverry and Moreno, Deyna Daza highlighted their influence in promoting Bolivian soccer on the international stage. She emphasized that these players have become references and inspirations for younger generations, not only on the field but also as coaches and player developers, thus contributing to the continuous development of soccer in Bolivia.
“The interest of Bolivian fans in the MLS has diminished in recent years, because Bolivian players have not participated in various games, nor have they been seen on the bench. Nowadays, the little interest that exists is because Messi plays there. The most significant legacy was to have promoted Bolivian soccer internationally, and in this case, I speak of players like Etcheverry, Moreno, Fernández, people who left their mark in soccer and are now references for young players. Additionally, they are still part of current soccer, either as coaches or player developers. Another legacy could also be the work that former Bolivian players have in training schools in the United States and Bolivia, which is certainly of great help for future generations.”
Deyna also emphasized the challenges faced by Bolivian players in adapting to the style of play and sports culture in the MLS. She emphasized the importance of physical preparation and the ability to adapt to a faster game, pointing to the need for a more comprehensive approach in the training of young players to prepare them for success in foreign leagues.
“The challenges are physical preparation, they need to adapt to a faster game, very different from Bolivian soccer. Although the MLS is well known, I believe that South American soccer is a bit more attractive because of the teams, players, and especially the fans, so players who go to play in the MLS will not have difficulties adapting to the culture there. This has influenced a lot because it used to be difficult to see a Bolivian player in another league, young players nowadays prepare themselves very well physically, in terms of speed and tactically, to be able to play abroad. The case of Jaime Moreno, for example, who was one of the figures of DC United due to the potential he had and also the discipline he acquired in his training.”
However, despite the expressed concerns, Deyna Rojas emphasized the importance of prominent figures such as Jaime Moreno and Marco Etcheverry in elevating the profile of Bolivian soccer and promoting sustained national pride among the Bolivian community. Her balanced view offers a thoughtful reflection on the achievements and challenges faced by Bolivian players in the MLS, reinforcing the ongoing need for development and improvement in the Bolivian soccer scene.
“Jaime Moreno is and will be a figure in Bolivian soccer and also in the United States. I believe this hasn’t affected, but on the contrary, has served as a great example for young players today. Currently, the Bolivian community sees Moreno as a reference; he is also part of the American football Hall of Fame, which will certainly be a source of pride for all Bolivians and also for those who followed him when he was in the MLS. Without a doubt, Jaime Moreno’s trajectory is applauded. Not only for being part of the MLS but also for having returned and been a figure in the Bolivian national team. Today’s young people have to prepare themselves very well to be able to match or surpass Moreno in national and international soccer. I believe that the quality of Etcheverry was unique in Bolivian soccer. The player’s career abroad and with the national team helped increase the visibility of Bolivian soccer on a global scale. Despite not having a particularly flashy national league, several players have shown that they can stand out in foreign leagues due to the legacy left by players like Etcheverry”, said Deyna Daza Rojas to MLS Multiplex.
The interview with Deyna Daza Rojas to MLS Multiplex highlights the importance of recognizing past achievements while simultaneously addressing current and future realities to ensure that Bolivian players can compete on an equal footing in international leagues, while continuing to strengthen soccer in their home country.