The Impact’s new defensive recruit sat down with Goal Canada to speak about his upbringing in Coruña and his decision to embark on a new adventure in MLS.
MONTREAL – The training session had run its course at the Claude Robillard Sports Complex and Adrian Lopez was leisurely making his way back towards the locker rooms. But before doing so, he spotted a couple of fans that had been waiting for him and stopped to chat.
The idea of going to new places and meeting new people was something that had always fascinated Lopez and it was one of the factors which swayed the 26 year old into making the move from Wigan to Montreal two weeks ago to play for the Impact in MLS.
“The fact of seeing another culture is great because it opens up your mind to different things,” Lopez told Goal.
Lopez grew up in As Pontes, a small town in the north-western province of A Coruña in Spain. His father played semi-pro soccer and just like most people in the area, his family supported Deportivo la Coruña.
After playing for the As Pontes youth teams for several years, Lopez moved away from his family into a residency in Coruña where he played for the Deportivo Academy, which is one of the more reputable soccer schools in the country.
It was also a golden period for the Coruña senior team as it won La Liga in the 1999/2000 season and then La Copa Del Rey the year after. In 2004, Coruña also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, losing out to eventual winners Porto 1-0 on aggregate.
In 2006, Lopez made his professional debut in the Spanish third division with the Deportivo B side and in the next season, at the mere age of 20, the center back was promoted to the first-team and played in nearly half of the team’s games in La Liga.
By the winter of 2010, Lopez wanted to try something different and decided to join Spanish manager Roberto Martinez at Wigan in the English Premier League following vain attempts from Deportivo to retain their homegrown player.
To this day, Lopez doesn’t regret his decision to leave his boyhood club.
“I really enjoyed my time at Wigan,” Lopez explained. “I liked English football; it was a great experience for me. I loved the stadiums and the atmospheres in England and going there opened me up to a different culture."
Now in Montreal, Lopez is getting to learn about another culture and he was quick to shrug off the suggestion that the city was perhaps less fervent about the game than the places he had been before.
“Montreal is a football city. People like football a lot here. There’s a great atmosphere at the stadium and Montreal is doing very well,” Lopez said. “In the second year of MLS we’ve already been first place in the league and we feel like we can make the playoffs, which would be fantastic."
Lopez played his first minutes with the Impact in a 2-1 loss against the Chicago Fire last weekend in the reserve league and is now working hard to get himself into game shape. But he’s also taking the time to study MLS and explained he was impressed with its diversity.
“The league is a mix of Premier League and Spanish football and that mixture that MLS has is something you don’t find in any other league,” Lopez said. “You have some teams that play Spanish style football, or others that play Premier League style and that’s great for the popularity of the league and it’s something that will help improve it.”
Lopez still has Deportivo la Coruna at heart and dreams of being able to one day finish off his career there, but he also admits that in soccer it’s impossible to predict where one will end up and that for now his sole preoccupation is helping the Impact reach the postseason and the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League.
In his first days with the Impact, he’s also had a chance to reminisce about Deportivo’s memorable Champions League run in 2004 with teammates Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Nesta. That year, Deportivo managed to knock off Di Vaio’s Juventus in the round of 16 and remarkably came from 4-1 down in the first leg of the quarter-finals to eliminate Nesta’s AC Milan 5-4 on aggregate.
“Oh, we already talked about that,” Lopez admitted jokingly.