Adolfo “El Tren” Valencia's career reveals a series of great memories. His soccer career allowed him to travel the world and pave new roads for his compatriots far away from Colombia. He played in two World Cups and scored the fifth goal in that historic 5-0 win for Colombia’s National Team at El Monumental in Buenos Aires.
In the 1993-1994 season, Valencia won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, becoming the first Colombian player to achieve it. During his time in Munich, Valencia scored 11 goals.
The decision to come to the MetroStars was made while he played for Greek side PAOK FC. He hadn’t been there that long but had already won over fans thanks to his goals.
“Everything happened during that time I was in Greece, the club never agreed to me leaving because of the good performances I always gave,” said Valencia. “I was one of those natural goalscorers who always scored goals wherever he went, so I had the chance to speak with Santa Fe’s directors, who at the time were Mr. César Villegas and Álvaro Aldama, who was the president. I told them that the United States option was good because, after all, I had my Colombian compatriots there; they had always talked to me about the United States, and I always had that dream of going there and playing.
"I wanted to get to know the United States, be close to my countrymen. I was going to be around a big Colombian population, with people who supported me, the people who knew me from my time in Colombia playing soccer. A meeting was held, and we reached an agreement with PAOKs board of directors. They never agreed on letting me go, but in the end with long faces, they accepted and told me that if I left, they wouldn’t finish paying off the rest of my contract. However they did say that the doors would always be open if I ever wanted to return there.”
Valencia arrived at the MetroStars to play the 2000 season and ended up playing 65 games, where he scored 29 goals and picked up 18 assists across all competitions. El Tren completed two successful seasons with the club and had the opportunity to play with a group of footballers he still remembers with great affection.
"I thank Head Coach [Octavio] Zambrano, and also Coach [Juan Carlos] Osorio, who was the Physical Trainer. They knew me well from my days with the National Team. I also thank the MetroStars because they saw my videos and liked them. I went there with the idea that I always took wherever I went, I always liked to be a professional -- go there to earn a place, to fight, and always leave a mark as the great scorer that I was,” said Valencia. “So everywhere in the world I went, I always scored goals; I arrived there, and the reception was very good.
“Right away I adapted to the team, which had players like Clint Mathis, Tab Ramos, I remember them as if it were today, [Tim] Howard, an excellent goalkeeper we had, Mike Petke, as a central defender, Mark Chung, a winger, also Petter Villegas. We had a handful of players that gave us the opportunity to have a good team and compete. What we had to do was get to know each other little by little to start practicing the system that el Profe implemented, so we could all feel comfortable and give results on the pitch. And we succeeded.”
Valencia, who also played for Atlético de Madrid and A.C. Reggiana, enjoys remembering those Golden Goals that he scored for our club.
“I remember two, three, of the Golden Goal days,” said Valencia. “With five minutes left, I had the opportunity to make two or three goals like that, so that in the eyes of all the MetroStars fans must have been something great because in those five minutes I always helped the team avoid defeat. I remember those goals a lot.
“There was one where they gave me the ball, I faked the goalkeeper by making him think that I was going to shoot hard, and when the goalkeeper dove to one side, I placed the ball to the other side. I even did it with my left foot, although I’m righty. The goalkeeper just watched the ball go by, and that made the crowd go crazy.”
From Colombia, Valencia has followed the growth of the league, one that has grown since those days when he decided to come to the country.
“I see it well [the league’s growth] because we were the ones who opened the doors,” concluded Valencia. “Many players came to the league such as Antony de Ávila and Juan Pablo Ángel. There have been many players who really gave many positive results to the league, and I believe that the league is getting stronger and more competitive each day. I also look at what [David] Beckham is doing, he has his own club because he knows that the league is becoming very interesting.”