Matao's Grimes signs pro contract; pro club now affiliated with Guam FA

[April 4, 2015 - Harmon, Guam] Confidence gained from sharing in the Matao’s success at the EAFF East Asian Cup Semifinal Round last year in Chinese Taipei helped clear the path for a professional playing career for Guam central defender Mason Grimes.

Grimes recently signed a contract with USL team Tulsa Roughnecks FC after impressing coaches at a soccer combine in Ventura, Calif. in January. Gary White, Guam national team head coach and Guam Football Association technical director, also attended the combine and established a close relationship with club coaches to evaluate and possibly sign more players from Guam ready for the professional level.

“I feel my call-up to the Guam national team did push me into pursuing my dream to become a professional soccer player,” Grimes said. “I thought I performed well with the national team and that definitely gave me a confidence boost that strengthened my belief that I am able to play at the professional level.

“I definitely feel that playing with the Matao helped me improve as a player. I was no longer playing with only college players and players my age – I was playing at the international level and in a professional environment. I was able to play with more experienced players on the Matao who gave me a lot of advice and were honest with me on things I needed to improve on. I just tried to take in as much information as I could to become a better player,” Grimes added.

Grimes played three full matches with the Matao in the EAFF tournament, two of which he played alongside fellow central defender A.J. DeLaGarza, who plays for MLS club L.A. Galaxy. DeLaGarza was selected as L.A. Galaxy’s 2014 Defender of the Year after a stellar season with the club that won its unprecedented fifth MLS Cup championship last year.

“Mason is a truly a top-level player for his age who has the drive and desire to constantly improve individually as a player and as a major contributor to the teams he plays for,” said Gary White, Guam national team head coach. “He integrated seamlessly with Guam’s team during his first training camp with us in Chinese Taipei and contributed to the team’s success almost immediately due to his strong work ethic. I am certain he will go far in the professional realm of the sport.”

Grimes’ signing with the club will open doors for players and coaches from Guam who aspire to enter professional ranks, following the finalization of an affiliation agreement between the Roughnecks and Guam Football Association. Roughnecks head coach Dave Irving was exceptionally pleased with signing Grimes to the team that he and White agreed to enter into an affiliation partnership.

“We at the club are very honored to be affiliated with Guam Football Association,” Irving said. “I feel that the partnership will help both the club and GFA continue to grow and develop. We look forward to meeting and assessing more top soccer players and coaches from Guam who share the same vision of success that we do.”

Through the affiliation partnership, top players and coaches from Guam receiving the nod from White may be afforded the opportunity to train with the professional club. The best may be offered contracts, Irving said.

Grimes is the grandson of Rosalia Pereda Cruz, formerly of Agana Heights, and William J. Grimes, Sr. who had been stationed in Guam with the U.S. Navy. The pair married in Guam before relocating, Mason Grimes said. Currently, Grimes’ family lives in Temecula, Calif.

Grimes began playing soccer at the age of four years old, following his two older sisters. He played at the recreational level for a few years before earning a spot on the Southwest Soccer Club. Later, he advanced to Arsenal FC, a Nike Premier Club in southern California that is also a member of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, the club Web site states. He played four seasons with California State University San Marcos and received his call-up to the Matao during his final season with the Cougars.

Grimes most recently traveled with Matao to Hong Kong and Singapore for two FIFA international friendly matches, where he started and played a full 90 minutes in both contests. He hopes to be selected to Guam’s final roster for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June.

“It would honestly be a dream come true for me – to be a part of the biggest sporting event in the world,” Grimes said. “Hopefully Guam will take a lot of people by surprise when we win matches.

“There isn’t a more prideful moment in my soccer career than putting on the Matao jersey – it means a lot more than just winning and losing and playing soccer. I want to do my best at every opportunity I’m given – not only for the team, my family and myself, but also to represent Guam to the best of my ability.”

Grimes is the son of Jim and Sandi Grimes and has two older sisters, Leah and Jessica, and a younger brother Jacob.

Guam's Mason Grimes looks to pass the ball during the Matao's FIFA international friendly match against Hong Kong at Mong Kok Stadium March 28.

Guam's starting eleven players pose for a photo before the teams' FIFA international friendly against Singapore at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore Tuesday. Front row from left to right are Justin Lee, Ryan Guy, Alexander Lee, John Matkin, and Shane Malcolm. Back row from left to right are Dallas Jaye, Jason Cunliffe, Mason Grimes, Brandon McDonald, Shawn Nicklaw, and Nathaniel Lee.

Guam's Mason Grimes poses for an official club photo for the Tulsa Roughnecks FC, a professional team in the USL.

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