Wikipedia calls Derby Carrillo's time with the Seattle Sounders a trial. Derby calls it something a bit more. In Friday's phone conversation with Sounder at Heart he said "It's almost exactly like what Bryan Meredith did." His 'trial' with the Sounders was more than a trip to Arizona. He was with the Kitsap Pumas in 2010, practiced with Seattle and even was the backup in some of the ad hoc reserve games on the backfields of Starfire that year.
After Kitsap in 2011 he signed with FC New York of the USL Pro league. The mileage he's put on during Cal FC's US Open Cup run isn't really new to him. With FCNY he was on a team that traveled from LA to Antigua and home to New York. A month of bouncing out of Southern California to Bremerton, Wilmington and Portland isn't new for him, nor most of his teammates.
The Cal FC story is all about something to prove. Many have tastes of the pro game in America, and comparing their league record to their Open Cup record it's clear that this tourney is a bigger deal for them. Derby said that while everyone has individual goals (sign a pro deal) they understand that will only happen based on what they do as a team.
Carrillo had other choices. There are hundreds of semi-pro and amateur teams in America. This one is coached by someone who is a little bit famous though. "The opportunity to play for and buy into what Eric Wynalda is doing, how could I pass that up?" So he joined the team.
They've beaten three professional teams already. Does that mean that they've reached their goals and everything else is gravy? "No. We want to win the US Open Cup." That's the team's focus. No resting on what's already happened, but instead a drive to do something better.
Carillo knows how hard that will be. He's familiar with the Seattle Sounders fanbase. He knows the passion in the stands and is familiar with about half the team. "I can help with a few players' tendencies, but they're an MLS team. They're on TV all the time. Eric will coach. If he asks for help, I'm able to give some, maybe more during the game."
This isn't Carillo's first trip to Starfire, but there is more pressure now than when he tried to get that first pro contract. He relayed the team's excitement for the opportunity to play on national television. But their goal goes beyond the feel-good story as Wynalda's team. There's confidence and drive as a unit to prove something. There's also a recognition that what they are doing is a different kind of history than what the Sounders did in winning three straight US Open Cups.