Player Of The Year: Jonathan Madrid

There’s an abundance of soccer quality in the Inland Area.

The overwhelming number of players with collegiate and professional options coming out of Riverside and San Bernardino counties is prescient considering Area alums include USMNT players like Donovan, Bocanegra, Edu and Rimando.

And every year, prep players impress with their ability to make those who watch willing to draw such lofty comparisons.

Last year, it was MoVal Valley View’s Alex Turkson.

Jonathan Madrid was electric with the ball this season for Fontana. / Alejandro Cano for La Prensa

This year, it is Fontana Jonathan Madrid, another player who can create shots for others as well as he can for himself.

Madrid (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) is listed as a striker on the Steelers’ roster but can probably play any attacking role, either up the middle or on the wing. His pace is such that defenders simply cannot keep up, nevermind dispossess him of the ball.

He scored 24 goals and had 22 assists for the Steelers (21-2-1 overall), who lost a 3-2 heart-breaker to Oxnard Channel Islands in the Quarterfinal Round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.

It was a premature defeat for a team so gifted and seemingly unstoppable. So much so that Coach Abel Soto’s team had been ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the Inland Area every week of 2012.

I caught up with Madrid, the 2011-’12 Inland Area Soccer Player Of The Year, following the Southern California College Soccer Showcase at Colton HS on Sunday, March 18, 2012.

He didn’t score in the game but he did have an assist for Inland Empire ’93, which eventually beat Orange County ’93 in a shootout following a 4-4 regulation draw.

Madrid is a normal kid. Likeable but reserved. He didn’t say too much, and yet had plenty to say. He even talked about his soocer future at Cal State Bakersfield, where he has already signed a National Letter of Intent.

So what does playing in an all star-type event like this mean to you?

“It means a lot. It’s my last year so to spend out here with some of the best players from three counties… it’s a good experience.”

Take me back to a couple of weeks ago when Fontana was eliminated. What do you think about the way it went down, now that you’ve had some time to reflect?

“It was very disappointing. We were a man short. That game was ours. We just didn’t want it, and unfortunately we lost. It was like heart-breaking, senior year, so close but yet so far.”

When did you decide to commit to Cal State Bakersfield?

“Bakersfield? They’ve been talking to me since my junior year but I couldn’t really talk to them. Senior year came and they started offering, and my grades aren’t that great but they’re not that bad, so they accepted me with those grades. They gave me a full scholarship so I committed to them. I signed with them, the letter of intent already.”

What type of experience are you expecting to have in Bakersfield?

“I’m expecting a very tough experience, moving away from family. It’s going to be a different attitude, a different experience over there, so just preparing myself right now both mentally and physically.”

Bakersfield’s coaches were smart to get on Madrid’s radar early because the player put up mind-boggling offensive numbers this season. Regardless of his “not that bad” grades, he’d would have coaches circling like bogies on the screen.

But the Roadrunners get the player who could be next. And Madrid will be playing NCAA Division 1 soccer, just like a growing number of his ’12 classmates.

There’s an abundance of soccer quality in the Inland Area. This year, Fontana’s Jonathan Madrid was the cream of the crop.

Jonathan Madrid scored 24 goals this season for Fontana (21-2-1), a CIF-SS Division 3 quarterfinalist. /


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