Everyone takes a different path to get where they are. RGVFC defender Manny Padilla’s course was filled with more danger than most. Growing up in notorious Compton, California, Padilla’s first objective was about survival, not soccer.
Manny is the youngest of five, with two older brothers and two older sisters. “My parents have always sacrificed to give me the best. With that being said, I appreciated that and made sure I made something of everything given to me by them,” he explains. “On the other hand, my siblings have always been my mentors and paved the way to college and have given me advice throughout my whole life. The influence and impact that my family has had on my life have shaped me into the person I am on and off the field throughout life.” At age six, Manny began playing soccer when his dad took his brothers to a local league in Compton. The sport has allowed him to find a career and get out of Compton.
Rather than allow his hometown to serve as a negative in his life, the 22-year-old Padilla uses it as positive motivation. “People would doubt me because I wasn’t supposed to be everywhere I was because I was just supposed to be another statistic of failure from Compton. However, I used this as motivation to prove the doubters wrong,” he says. “I took the underdog mentality to my success. Every time I achieved something, I was humble about it. It made me hungrier. It has taught me to not take opportunities for granted because nothing was ever handed to me and I am forever grateful for every given opportunity I have worked hard for myself to get.”
Padilla was a fourth-round selection by the Houston Dynamo in this year’s SuperDraft. He will spend this season in the USL with RGVFC. “It’s an opportunity I’m very excited for. It’s the start of my career and I will always remember my first season and make it one to remember by doing my best to help the team out,” Padilla says. “It’s something I’ve always looked forward to. Nothing better than with an organization like the Toros, who are affiliated with Houston Dynamo, who drafted me, and have a great pathway to from USL to MLS.”
The defender is a steady presence on the back line and he’s also dangerous in the attack. Serving as captain, Padilla tallied seven assists in his senior season at the University of San Francisco. A fullback that can add danger to the attack was a big part of RGVFC’s success in 2016 with George Malki and Kevin Garcia. Padilla and his club host Saint Louis FC on March 16th, at H-E-B Park.