Soon he will celebrate 20 years of living in the United States and Rodrigo Rios is living with his family in an important phase in the North American country. He left Atlanta United and the city to embark on an ambitious project Austin F.C. In the MLS. He will finish his second season as an assistant TD for new head coach Josh Wolff in the Texas State Capitals. Former midfielder Catholic University, Palestinian and Spanish Union He made his career in the United States, and in a conversation with AS, he spoke about what happened in his life away from Chile.
“Everything here is so cool, things that only happen in America. (Austin FC) is a new team, only in its second year. As with everything, it costs a lot in the first year, but this year we organized a little better and we brought in two reinforcements that will improve the team. Already with last year’s experience we were able to run a great campaign. We are first in the Eastern Conference (MLS). Point Los Angeles, as they say here, the All-Star team, we are fighting there”, said a member of Roja Sub 23 at the time.
“I had to come from Atlanta for over 16 years. It’s not just a change of the club, but of everything. The truth is, I am very happy here, especially with the response of the players, the atmosphere of the city, the fans, the club. It can be seen here that it was a successful step in my career. Not just me, the family is very happy,” says the UC-trained former midfielder.
– What made you change cities and clubs?
– I was a training coach in Atlanta and I reached sub 19. Also, ‘Dada’ (Gerardo) asked me to participate in Martino’s operation as a field assistant. Above all help with translations and the implementation of some field exercises, which require not a translator but a football coach who can speak the language. I was in Atlanta for those two years, at the professional level, and the first two years at Atlanta (United) at the professional level, which is where I live now.
– Is this a stage performed in the city of Atlanta?
– See, people in the league started getting to know me, like Austin FC’s coach, Josh Wolff. Both of his kids played in Atlanta, and he was an assistant with the Columbus Crew and the United States team, so he had references to the work Tata Martino had done in Atlanta and knew I was a part of that process. So, he started interviewing me, and the truth is, we agree on a lot of things, not just about football, but about how to train, how to teach. The fact is that chemistry has been found not only with him, but also with the rest of the coaching staff. I believe the results are a reflection of that relationship and the good understanding we have off the pitch.
– Was your original plan to stay and live in America after graduation?
– Yes, the truth came here and stayed. On one of my first tours with Católica—I must have been 14 or 15—we came to America and I was lucky enough to meet Jorge Alvell. He was the one who brought in so many players and since then George always invited me to play here because he thought I was a good player and a good person. At this time, so young, I told him no, he had other aspirations. Maybe going to play in Europe, that didn’t happen, but there came a time when I called him and said I’m ready. My idea is to come, play and start preparing for what’s coming next.
– Leaving the country without a return date is a life decision.
– In Chile I took a course in sports business management. My idea was to be able to work more in an office, in management, a bit tired of travel from the life of a footballer. When I retired here, I worked briefly as the game manager of Atlanta, the Atlanta Silverbacks, who were only playing in the second division at the time, for almost two years. But after two to three months of doing that job, the court started calling me, I took coaching courses and after I finished I started working in children’s academies to continue learning and growing as a coach.
– How is life in Austin?
– It is a very growing city. Although it is the capital of the state of Texas, it has always been overshadowed by the much larger Dallas and the third largest city in the US, Houston. Texas itself is so big, it’s so hot, everything is so open, no mountain range, nothing. The city is becoming more technologically oriented. In fact, Apple has practically all or several offices here. Tesla already has a factory here and tech companies are coming from California. It’s growing with a younger, more adventurous population.
– And how about the city?
– It is very beautiful, it has a river running through the city, which almost forms like a lake in the center. People go kayaking and it also serves as a beach. There are other lakes too. It’s really cool, people are going to ride the boat and all that stuff. It is a very international city and you have all kinds of cuisines. There’s also a cart with Chilean empanadas that’s a weekly visit with the whole family (laughs). People switched everything to football, the club, the stadium was sold out. The bar has songs in both English and Spanish. It’s a well-mixed city and that helps.
– What aspects of American life caught your attention? Why did you choose to live there?
– See, I was a little deceived (laughs), because when someone came from Chile, we had to go to Florida, where everything was a beach, where everything was clean, neat, and people respected you. And then we had to go to California, a couple of times we went to San Diego, Los Angeles, and I think life is more organized as people approach other things. Maybe it’s a feeling because after living here, you see the realities change. Obviously, in varying proportions, there are people who live on the street, work to make ends meet, and there are things that don’t work as well as one might think.
– Did you find the most authentic life in the country?
– See, here one recognizes that one can live the life one wants. If you want a more hectic life, you can have it. If you want to spend more time or know, especially with kids, it’s another world. Although it still has some flaws, I think it’s much improved. It gives you more opportunities to grow in any field of your choice. In my case, it’s football, there are children’s academies, where 30 million children have to play, and the coach can only dedicate himself to that. Compared to the cadet trainees in Chile, they have to work in universities, in schools, and carry on a much tougher battle there. Here, there are other types of opportunities and it depends on how far you can go.