Last week as part of our series for Hispanic Heritage Month, we took a look at the Top 20 current Hispanic players in the USL Championship.
This week, we’re going bigger as we start to reveal the players that have earned a place in the Championship’s All-Time Hispanic Squad with the goalkeeper and defenders that have stood out most over the league’s first decade.
All are familiar names, including current players in the league, three of which appear today. While the back line has a more recent feel than other areas of the field, the quality all four players bring is unquestionable.
Check back in next Friday to see the Midfielders.
Click on each player below to learn more about their Championship careers.
Oscar Jimenez’s story is one of persistence. The Washington state native had a cup of coffee with FC Tulsa in its inaugural season in 2015 but had to continue to pursue his goal of the professional ranks in USL League Two with Mississippi Brilla FC the following year. Then he broke in at Louisville City FC and has established himself as one of the notable players in the club’s remarkable run over its first seven seasons.
Jimenez was nominated for the Championship’s Defender of the Year award in 2019 and is LouCity’s all-time leader in regular season assists with 24 in 113 appearances going into this weekend’s action. The full back has become one of the best dead-ball specialists in the league, too, with his 157 chances created from set plays more than double the total of any other defender in the league since the start of the 2017 season.
If there’s one thing that immediately comes to mind when you think about Indy Eleven’s Ayoze, it’s that left foot. You know, the one that’s delivered countless passes, through-balls and deliveries to help fuel the attack for the Boys in Blue for the past four seasons, racking up eight goals, 18 assists and 178 chances created in 87 regular-season appearances in the Championship since the start of the 2018 season.
But there’s more than just creativity in the Spanish veteran’s game. He wins his battles, recording a 57.6 percent success rate in duels as well as 99 interceptions, 512 recoveries and a 66.2 percent tackle success rate. A 2018 Championship All-League selection, Ayoze has been one of the league’s most entertaining and consistent talents in recent years.
Coming through the FC Dallas Academy after moving from El Paso, Texas when he was 12, Aaron Guillen has become one of the leading defenders in the Championship in the past two years for one of the league’s all-time best defenses at the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Ever-present for the side since the start of the 2020 season, Guillen has contributed to 20 shutouts in 40 regular season games, including the Rowdies’ current 801-minute shutout streak that has set a new mark in the league’s history.
But there’s more to the native of Chihuahua, Mexico than just his time in Tampa Bay. Competing on loan for FC Tulsa after signing as a Homegrown Player with FC Dallas and at North Carolina FC, Guillen has shown his individual strengths consistently over the past five seasons. In that span, he’s been a +16.52 in G+ according to American Soccer Analysis, putting him in the Top 15 among Center Backs in that span. The reliability he’s shown earns him a place here.
Here’s something you may not remember about the Charleston Battery’s stalwart Cuban shot-stopper; He was the first goalkeeper in the Championship’s history to reach 40 regular-season shutouts for his career, and did so in 110 appearances, posting a clean sheet at a rate of better than one every three games for the Battery.
One of three players that joined Charleston after defecting prior to a World Cup Qualifier for the Cuba Men’s National Team game in October 2012 Canada alongside Maikel Chang and Heviel Cordoves, Cooper was an All-League selection and Goalkeeper of the Year Finalist in 2015. He posted a 1.07 goals-against average for his career while helping the Battery reach the USL Championship Playoffs every season, including a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference in 2017 while recording 10 shutouts in 24 games, a career high.