When Allen Gavilanes signed his first professional soccer contract with Greenville Triumph of the USL League One, he called his mother. They both were emotional and started crying because he had finally reached his dream, he was going to play professional soccer.
During his time at Marist, Gavilanes was the MAAC Offensive Player of the Year and MAAC Rookie of the Year his freshman season. He was named to the All-MAAC First Team in each of his three seasons, and he tallied 20 goals and 22 assists in 54 appearances during his college career.
Back in 2020, Gavilanes told Center Field about his dream to be a professional soccer player and how he had had that dream since he was a kid. He was hoping to achieve that dream shortly after graduating. Now that he has achieved that dream, he wants to focus on bigger goals.
“As soon as I signed, I started thinking, ‘What is my next goal?’ I just wanted to keep leveling up,” said Gavilanes.
Gavilanes joined Greenville Triumph in April of 2021 after receiving help from his agent Clint Caso. He credits the coaching staff for getting him to sign in Greenville, specifically John Harkes. Harkes, head coach of Greenville, is a U.S. Soccer legend that has been to two World Cups and was a captain at one of them. He is also the first American to play in the English Premier League.
“As soon as I had the opportunity to play here, I was super excited,” Gavilanes said. “Once I got signed, I knew I was going to develop with such a good coaching staff and John Harkes.”
Greenville, located in South Carolina, has been one of the top teams in the USL League One Division III. The league was launched in 2019 and is operated by the United Soccer League. The division is the third tier of American soccer below the USL League Two and the MLS. The Triumph have been to the final every season and won the championship in 2020.
Upon arriving at Greenville, Gavilanes was welcomed with open arms by the players and coaching staff. He has been the youngest player on the roster both seasons, but he has been under the wing of captain defender Brandon Fricke and midfielder Aaron Walker. They have taught him how to conduct himself and be a professional on and off the field.
“Greenville is like a family, ever since I got here, I have felt at home,” Gavilanes said. “We are the oldest team in the league, and that helps me and the team. That gives me more people to learn from and better myself.”
During his two seasons with Greenville, Gavilanes has played midfield, and his role is to help the team win games. Every day he looks to work hard in practice and help better his teammates. Gavilanes fits into the winning culture that has been established at Greenville.
“I’m happy to contribute to that success and keep building that standard they hold themselves to,” he added.
The standard has worked well for Gavilanes and Greenville this season, as they currently sit in third place out of 11 teams in the league with 39 points. Gavilanes has made 26 appearances this season and has four goals and six assists. He is third on the team in goals and first on the team in assists. Despite individual success, there are still sacrifices that need to be made to be on a winning team. Those sacrifices include individual stats and playing time.
“It’s a sacrifice to be there, and we are all willing to do that,” Gavilanes said.
With this success, Gavilanes is cemented as one of the best soccer players to come through Marist. Despite his senior season being canceled due to COVID-19, he was still named to the All-MAAC 40th anniversary team. Gavilanes enjoyed his time at Marist, and he still keeps in touch with his teammates today.
“It’s a pleasure. I learned a lot being a Marist student-athlete,” he said. “The coaching staff was great to me, and I developed a lot there. It helped me become a better person.”
Gavilanes credits Marist head coach Matt Viggiano for helping him get to the professional level. The knowledge he learned in training helped prepare him to be a professional player.
“I learned to be consistent and always come into training playing like it’s your last day,” Gavilanes said. “I think he helped me a lot mentally to be more resilient and confident in my ability.”
As the season winds down with Greenville, Gavilanes’ contract runs out after the year. He is keeping his options open, and he is using a wait-and-see approach with his contract. Despite this, Gavilanes remains focused on finishing the job with Greenville this season.
“My goal is to win the championship. Last year, we were unfortunate not to win. I think this year we can make it back to the finals and win it,” said Gavilanes.
Gavilanes has the same mindset that he had during his senior year at Marist. He continues to strive for more, and he remains focused on moving higher up the ranks.
“In the future, I would like to make a jump to a higher division. I would like to one day play in the MLS or Europe in a top league,” he said.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez and Andrew Hard
Header photo courtesy of Greenville Triumph