Chuy Enriquez breaking out his routine to ‘Y Que Fue?’ was a welcome sight at the team’s 4-nil preseason victory over Academica SC on February 5. When greeting supporters out in Turlock, there was a sense of relief that the Roots’ Righteous Award winner and fan-favorite was back with the club.
He scored in the 75th minute against Academica and perhaps his goal is a sign of things to come under new head coach Juan Guerra. The blog spoke to him earlier this month at the team’s media day on February 2.
“I’m happy to be back, I’m from the Bay Area. Right when I signed last year, I had an instant connection with the fans and people out here. I definitely wanted to come back. There was other interests and stuff like that, but my first priority was to come back. I knew there was interest elsewhere, I had phone calls, but there was never something serious because my mind was here. I just had to wait for their decision, I knew that they were interested and it was just about the waiting game, the negotiations, and the coach; there’s a new coach who wanted to see if he was interested in me as well. Turns out, he said wanted me back, that’s when the negotiations started. It took longer than I expected, that’s for sure, but I’m just happy to be back,” said Enriquez.
Enriquez, 25, scored four goals and three assists over 1,652 minutes in 22 appearances last season. He was instrumental in the playoff victory over El Paso, recording the assist on Jeremy Bokila’s game-winner. The Locos sure loved him down in the West Texas town.
“We have to use the mentality that we had at the end of the season; the run that we had where we had to win games to get into the playoffs and advance farther in the playoffs. We beat El Paso which had a 25 game winning streak at the time, the USL reporters were saying that we’d go into there just being happy about reaching the postseason. But that wasn’t it, we didn’t think about that everyone saying we wouldn’t go far or beat El Paso. We ignored that and played well, and made it to OC. That’s the mentality we have to bring going forward in this 2022 season,” said Chuy.
“We have a good group of guys; we have a full staff and we have to take advantage of this amazing facility as well.”
Enriquez is known for his sleek footwork, but also showed some fantastic finishing. He recalled his goal against San Diego Loyal on October 24, which was a brilliant left-footed curling shot from a few feet above the penalty area. The clip is shown below.
“I’m right footed, and you obviously have to take chances as well with your left. It kind of just happened, I got the ball and I saw the defender was committing to me completely full speed, so I took a tough inside and ended up landing my left foot. I just took the shot, put a little bit of bend in it; you guys saw the goal, it actually went kind of slow so I had the chance to look at it,” said Enriquez laughing.
His goal put Oakland ahead 2-1 against San Diego, which wound up being needed to advance into the playoffs. The highs and lows of that late-October match embodied the entire 2021 season for the organization. For Chuy, he spent 12 games out of the lineup but he seemingly heeded the message to ultimately regain a starting role.
“Ups and downs throughout the whole season. We had that COVID outbreak as a team and were out there playing Vegas with 12 players… And then there was a time where I didn’t play for 10-12 games and wasn’t being rostered, but I had to be there for the team. I had to come into training and still give it my all because it’s my job. I have to do it, I can’t just go out there , be upset, and bring the team down. Everybody feels those bad vibes when you come in moody to any type of worksite, I couldn’t do that. I had to keep going, keep training, and giving it my all–and it paid off, I took advantage of it,” explained Enriquez.
“It still stings to not make it to the Final, but we played well. We want to keep it going.”
When asked about how the Roots’ system might look like in 2022, Guerra and technical director Jordan Ferrell both mentioned “possession with a purpose.” Enriquez perhaps showed the most enthusiasm towards installing an aggressive attack.
“There’s going to be a lot of attack. Attacking, that’s for sure. I can’t really talk about it too much because I’m still learning, we just started. But little-by-little, day-by-day, we’re implementing new things from the new coach’s philosophy and way of play; I really like it and the whole team really likes it. Expect us to score a lot of goals and create a lot of opportunities. For sure, just know we’re going to attack, attack, attack,” said Chuy.
Enriquez said he spoke with Guerra before re-signing with the club on January 26.
“Right away, when we talked on the phone before I re-signed, he explained the way he wanted to go out there and the way he wanted to play. He comes from [Phoenix Rising], where they go forward and, right away, I knew that’s what he wanted. We’re studying video on what he’s come to implement. He’s a guy who likes goals and wants the ball, that’s what we’re going to try to do,” said Enriquez.
There is a clear feeling of positive energy building around the Roots. With an added year of experience in the USL Championship, the organization is looking to increase its footprint as an Oakland franchise. Although still in the early phases of the club, Enriquez already sees how Roots SC gives opportunities for local athletes, like himself, who didn’t have a lot of exposure growing up in East Palo Alto and Newark.
“Honestly, growing up in the Bay Area, we didn’t have these opportunities that the young kids are having now. It makes me happy for the future generations because I know there’s going to be more opportunities for them to show their skill and go pro at a younger age than I did. We have a lot of young players training with us who are from the Bay, and instead of looking at them as competition, it makes me happy seeing that local guys have a chance at their age. When I was growing up, we had to travel out of the state and find those tournaments on our own. Now, we have Oakland Roots, Monterey, Bay Cities.. I can name a lot more professional teams around now,” said Enriquez.
If you follow Oakland Roots, you’re aware of Chuy’s moves to ‘Y Que Fue?‘ and likely have practiced at some point. Apparently, a tutorial and a contest is coming.
“How that came about was just random. We were playing in Vegas, we won that game 3-1 and I scored with my left as well. In the locker room, everyone puts a song on and this time I was like, ‘Let me put one on.’ I landed on ‘Y Que Fue?‘ and I started doing my thing. I said, ‘When I score today, I’m going to do that celebration.’ Then boom, it happened, and it just stayed. Hopefully, I get a lot of goals this season and get to celebrate some more with it,” said Enriquez.
“The tutorial is coming. There’s going to be a challenge soon that who can do it the best will get a jersey.”
Chuy also wanted to set the record straight, he’s not from Santa Clara.
“I was born in Palo Alto at Stanford, and I was raised in Redwood City until I was around 10 and then moved to East Palo Alto. I stayed in the EPA for around five years and moved due to the violence to Newark. I bounced around a little, but I’m not from Santa Clara!”