Former Torero Jose Merlo signs with pro team


For Jose Merlo, the soccer field is a place he fondly calls home. A former defender for the University of San Diego men’s soccer team, and current Albion SC Pros player, Merlo has been around the game since a young age.

“I’ve been playing soccer since I was about three or four years old,” Merlo said.

Growing up in Escondido, CA with his mother, father, and two younger sisters, Jose developed a passion for the game. His father Tony played semi-professionally while Jose was a young boy, which only furthered his love of soccer.

“He bought me my first soccer ball,” Merlo said. “I loved growing up watching him play.”

Jose Merlo was a steady presence in the Toreros' defensive backfield. Photo courtesy of USD Athletics

Jose Merlo was a steady presence in the Toreros’ defensive backfield. Photo courtesy of USD Athletics

When he turned 12 years old, Merlo joined the Albion youth league, where he continued to play and develop his soccer skills. Although he tried out various positions while growing up, defense came to be his favorite spot, partly because of the element of surprise that comes with being an attacking defender.

“I like possessing the ball on defense and countering,” Merlo said. Having that role of a third person where people don’t expect you to come out and go forward is exciting for me.”

Merlo continued his soccer career at San Pasqual High School where he was the team MVP in 2011 and 2012, and was also the league’s player of the year.

While many athletic careers end at the high school level, Merlo’s was only getting started. After being recruited by a number of colleges, he eventually chose to play for the Seattle University Redhawks for two years. Merlo enjoyed the school, however he wished to continue his soccer experience closer to home, and transferred to play at the University of San Diego prior to his junior year.

For USD, Merlo was a consistent defensive right back. As graduation began to draw near Merlo realized he didn’t want his soccer career to end. A call from a former coach asking if he was interested in playing for San Diego’s own Albion SC Pros led to a perfect opportunity for Merlo to prolong his soccer career. Merlo joined the team in February, and has been playing there ever since.

“It’s a competitive and fun atmosphere,” Merlo said. “There is a good mix of experience and great camaraderie. The older guys show the younger players the ropes and I really appreciate it.”

Outside of soccer, Merlo enjoys CrossFit, which helps to keep him active and in shape all year long. He also likes to spend time with his family, especially his mom.

“My mom’s the person who has made everything possible for me,” Merlo said. “I am beyond grateful.”  

Although he isn’t quite sure where his soccer career will take him in life, Merlo is not too worried about the future. His upcoming graduation from USD this May and career with Albion SC Pros are both positives in his life that he is very proud of. As for his next move, Merlo is all about taking it slow.

“I am just taking it one step at a time, day by day,Merlo said. It’s been fun seeing that we have the ability to play against competitive leagues, and I’m excited to see how it all plays out.”

Jose Merlo and the Albion SC Pros will take on Frontera United on May 14 at Mission Bay Stadium. The team is a member of the National Premier Soccer League.