Gavilan College men's soccer coach Josue Salgado, who still plays the occasional semi-pro game, drills with one of his recruits on July 18. The team is preparing for the upcoming 2023 season, its first in five years. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
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For anyone thinking the Gavilan College men’s soccer team is going to be a pushover in the upcoming season—its first time on the pitch since 2018—coach Josue Salgado said to think again. 

“Why can’t we be good the first year back,” he said. “If you have the right players and the right system, then why can’t we be good the first year? I’m getting really good players, I have a couple of MLS Next players coming in, a couple of first team all league high school players coming in. So why can’t we go toe to toe with these top teams? Don’t sleep on Gavilan College this year just because it’s the first season. We’re bringing in all the right players this year so fingers crossed we’ll do some pretty good things.”

The Rams last fielded a team in 2018, when they finished 7-12-1 overall and 3-9 in the Coast Conference South Division. The program disbanded the following year and was dormant until the Gilroy community college decided to bring back both men’s and women’s soccer for the 2023 season. 

Salgado is pumped and motivated beyond all measure. He played at Christopher High and then at Gavilan in the 2013 and 2014 seasons and doubles as the Christopher High boys soccer coach. A local through and through, Salgado can’t wait for the season-opener on Aug. 29 at Merced College. 

“Oh my gosh, the excitement is through the roof,” he said. “Obviously, being an alum and going back and coaching here is kind of like a dream come true. It’s pretty sweet.”

Salgado’s goals have become more ambitious from the time he was first hired in February. That’s because of the talent he sees in practice. Although recruiting to Gavilan has been notoriously difficult throughout the years for all of the sports teams, Salgado has 25 to 30 players in the daily workouts and training sessions. 

“When I first got hired, I was, ‘OK, we haven’t had a program for a long time, so the goal was to get 20 guys out there and field a team,’” he said. “But once I started getting these really good players, the goal changed to why can’t we win games? Why can’t we make the playoffs? A lot of people are saying it’s Gavilan’s first year so we’re not going to be that good. Why? Who creates this glass ceiling for us? We’ve got good numbers out there and we’re able to go full throttle.” 

Ever since he was hired, Salgado said recruiting has been a 24 hours a day, seven days a week type of deal. Whether it’s phone calls, text messages or meet and greets, Salgado has been doing the rounds on the recruiting trail. 

“It’s been a full-time job and it hasn’t been easy, but thankfully I’m pretty connected in the soccer community so I’ve been able to get a good amount of players out,” he said. 

Salgado scheduled Merced—a team that reached the State Final Four last year—with a purpose in mind. 

“I figure we might as well go for the big dogs right off the bat,” he said. “That will let us know where we are and what we need to work on right away.”

Salgado said what separates Gavilan from other programs is everyone will be freshmen and with that a clean slate for all the players to make an impact. 

“We’re going to be a first-year program so that means there’s not going to be any sophomore favoritism,” he said. “A lot of times in junior college the sophomores have the advantage, but everyone is a freshman and has the same exact opportunity to earn minutes and whoever plays and competes the best will get that spot.”

Former Gavilan standout Josue Salgado has returned to his alma mater as men’s soccer coach. Submitted photo.
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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.

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