Facundo Dipascuale (photos by Chris Coulter, SoundersPhotos.com)
Tacoma, WA – There are a number of adjectives one could use to describe Facundo Dipascuale. He’s humble, hard working, charismatic, likable and talented, but above all else, he’s passionate. He is the kind of person that everybody likes and people quickly gravitate to “the kid with a giant smile.”
Dipascuale was born in the Banfield neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Banfield is an area with a deserved reputation of being extremely tough, as well as having some of the most passionate football supporters around. They club the area supports is Club Athletico Banfield. In Argentina, one does not choose a team to support; you support the team from your neighborhood. Facundo’s passion for his club permeated into his personality.
"Now looking back, I took a lot out of it. I think I use that passion in a smart way and anything I do I put my passion into it. Anything I’m passionate about I put a 110% into it," said Dipascuale.
At the age of nine, he and his family moved to Beaverton, Oregon. Moving to the U.S. in the fourth grade, he did not speak any English and was thrust into all English classes along with supplemental ESL classes. Before too long, Facundo picked-up the language, and he was also showcasing his love for soccer on a school rec-league team. On that team, he was often called upon by the coach to teach the other kids on the team to take corner kicks, set pieces, etc.
Dipascuale began playing organized soccer for FC Portland at the U12 level and continued playing with the club through the U17 level. During his time with FC Portland he won two state championships and formed great relationships with players and coaches. He has also been involved in coaching and camp programs with the organization.
In high school, Dipascuale played at Lakeridge and won a state championship as a freshman. Throughout his freshman year he played games for the freshman and junior varsity team. During the state playoffs, Dipascuale was called into action for the varsity team and made a lasting impression on many in the soccer community with his audacious performance against Woodburn in the quarterfinals.
"The crowd was yelling stuff at our team in Spanish. Me and my brother were the only Hispanic kids on the team and we were the only ones that could understand what they were saying. My brother was playing right back and I was playing right-mid. We were right against the fence (near the Woodburn supporters) and I was so mad," recalls Dipascuale. "We went to overtime, went down a goal in overtime, and we scored with thirty seconds to go. [The game] went to (penalty kicks) and when we scored me and my brother went and yelled at the fans (in celebration)."
The events that followed are the sort of thing that boys dream about laying in bed at night.
"Our coach asked who wants to take a PK--he just asked for guys to raise their hands, and I raised mine and said I’ll take one! And he picked me to take a PK! As I’m walking up, the whole crowd is booing me. I’m just this freshman with long hair, and I blew a kiss to the crowd before I took the PK. I placed my ball down and I blew a kiss to the crowd. What was I thinking? I don’t know! I smashed it and scored--thank god! I then ran by the crowd blowing kisses to them. That was sort of my transition to Varsity."
Dipascuale and team went on to win the state championship, where he tallied two assist in the game.
During his senior year of high school, Dipascuale was working full-time at a grocery store and hadn’t garnered too much attention.
"I did a poor job of contacting schools and schools didn’t come to me," said Dipascuale.
Fortune played a part in his college plans, when he landed at Concordia University. Here, Facundo benefitted from the tutelage of Dan Birkey, a coaching legend whose life has been heavily influenced by the great Clive Charles. Birkey, like many who played for and worked with Charles, carries on the message and values instilled by the soccer great.
"To be a whole person it’s about completeness, it’s about legacy. It’s not about you. It’s about being involved in service activities and giving back," said Birkey.
It wasn’t long before Dipascuale became immersed in this philosophy.
"I fell in love with the school, fell in love with the community and I had a mentor I was assigned to when I got there and he was like the VP of our school and he threw me into volunteering. I started volunteering at an elementary school and I loved it. I was able to help a kid that was Hispanic. That’s really when I fell in the love with the school and community and was like dang, I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this my whole life and I knew I need to help people. That’s when I realized that I’ve been helped so much in my life--throughout my first eighteen years and I was like, I need to give back," Facundo said of his college experience.
Facundo enjoyed a successful college career where he served as team captain. He was named Conference Player of the Year back-to-back seasons, and second team All-American honors in his senior year. In the spring of 2012, he graduated with a degree in Business and a minor in Social Work. After his playing career he hopes to be involved in non-profit work.
During the summer of 2012, Dipascuale played the PDL season with Tacoma Tide. At that time, he had his first experience with the Sounders.
“I worked the Sounders camps and they were so well organized and I was wowed by their camps. I had worked camps before at Concordia and FC Portland but I was just taken aback by the [Sounders] organization."
In April of 2012, Facundo made a strong case for a roster spot on the Sounders FC U-23 team with a three goal performance against Gonzaga University in a pre-season exhibition match.
“I feel so lucky to be playing where I am today with Darren (Sawatzky). I fell in love with his coaching and his mentality from the very first practice.”
Enthusiasm and passion are on display at every Sounders U-23 training session, where Facundo has quickly established himself among an elite group of players and is a guy that everyone enjoys being around.
Facundo’s coach at Concordia University, Dan Birkey, thinks this is a great opportunity for his former player, "I think he’ll really benefit from the consistency and quality of playing and training with guys at that higher level. It just takes time to develop and I think with Darren (Sawatzky) that will happen for him."
"I’m a Sounders fan. When an organization gives you the opportunity, you grow fond of it. I’m a strong believer in playing for the badge and this is the club that gave me a chance. I know it’s a PDL team but they still gave me a chance to play. I get to be around a great training staff and great staff and I really enjoy the organization," Dipascuale said of his opportunity with the Sounders FC U-23 team.
Facundo is a kid with humble aspirations, tremendous passion for life and someone you can’t help but root for to succeed.
When asked about what he wants to do in the coming years, his needs are very simple, “I tell people that I just want an apartment--somewhere to live, food, and transportation to practice and I’ll play."
Dipascuale and his Sounders U-23 teammates will host their inaugural home match as a member of the PDL on May 25. They play against Victoria at 7:30pm from Franklin Pierce High School. Tickets are available on HERE for just $10.
Don’t forget that May 30 marks a historic day when the U-23s will play at Cheney Stadium. They will be the first team to play soccer in the renovated Cheney Stadium, and before the match fans will have the chance to meet and greet the Sounders Women including Team USA stars. Tickets can be found on SoundersU23.com.