El Salvador international Irvin Herrera (pictured) has five goals in six games for Saint Louis FC during the current USL season. (Photo courtesy of Saint Louis FC)
ST. LOUIS, Missouri – It was one of those games when a player is in the zone…the scoring zone.
On Saturday, Irvin Herrera struck for four goals in Saint Louis FC’s 5-2 win over the Tulsa Roughnecks. As a result of his stunning performance, the El Salvador international was named the USL player of the week.
“Scoring four goals was great,” Herrera told CONCACAF.com. “I wanted to score more. It was an unforgettable game for me.”
Not long ago, however, Herrera was unsure if he’d playing professional soccer at all, never mind pull off one of the game’s rarities. Growing up in the U.S. state of Virginia, he was more concerned about his educational future than being a sports star.
“When I was in college playing soccer (at North Carolina Wesleyan), I didn’t even think of playing professional soccer,” the 24-year-old commented. “I was more focused on school, since I was hurt a lot. I went back home to Virginia and played in recreational leagues, but my brother had contacts at Santa Tecla in El Salvador. I impressed the coach there and won a spot.”
Herrera officially joined Santa Tecla in 2014 and quickly made an impact, helping it win the domestic crown for the first time, prevailing over Isidro Metapan in the 2015 Clausura final on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw.
That honor earned Santa Tecla a place in the 2015/16 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, where he scored in a 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake.
“If you would have told me five years ago that I was going to score a goal in a tournament like the CONCACAF Champions League, I never would have imagined,” expressed Herrera. “It was a great moment for me personally."
His play caught the attention of numerous clubs, but in February 2016, Herrera put pen to paper on a deal with Saint Louis FC. The club, which was founded in 2014, currently occupies fourth place in the USL’s Western Conference with a 4W-3D-2L record.
“I felt like it was a good opportunity for me,” said Herrera about his football in a historic American soccer city. “The USL is a good level. I had an injury to start the season, but things are better now.”
The 5-foot-9 forward has also made the jump to the El Salvador national team. In 10 appearances, he has one goal, a 41st minute tally in a 2-2 at St. Kitts & Nevis in a World Cup qualifier on June 11, 2015.
“I made my debut against Argentina [in 2015] in Landover, Maryland, so my friends and family came,” Herrera remarked. “It was an incredible experience. I also got to play three matches in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which helped me grow as a player.”
In the fourth round of qualifying for Russia 2018, the Salvadorans sit last in Group A with only two points from four games. Mexico has already sealed advancement, so the Cuscatlecos will battle Canada and Honduras – both with four points – for the other berth.
“As for El Salvador, I think it is possible for us still to reach the next round of qualifying, but it will be difficult,” finished Herrera. “We have the talent. We just have to be strong mentally.”
A hot Herrera could be the fuel needed to launch El Salvador’s rocket.