The Mexican Dream: California soccer stars go pro in parents’ home country

Where does a team of bi-national soccer stars fit in when the country their parents moved to for a better life shuts them out?

SALINAS, Calif. — Sandra Pulido had just enough time after her hospital cleaning shift to make her son’s favorite meal for the most important dinner of their lives.

It was late on a Wednesday in January 2016 when former U.S. national soccer coach Steve Sampson sat down for enchiladas at her family of 10’s two-bedroom home in East Salinas. He was there to convince her fourth-oldest child, Dany, to accept a full scholarship to play for Cal Poly’s nationally ranked soccer team.

The whole night played out like a movie for the 19-year-old midfielder at the center of the commotion. Dany watched his parents react as he sent the email committing to the school right there at the table.

“They were so happy,” he said. “For me, it was always whatever they wanted, I would do.”

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