Mauricio Vargas Returns, Joins FC Wichita Technical Staff
It's a homecoming of sorts as Mauricio Vargas returns to FC Wichita this week, 7 years after his professional player promotion. Vargas is set to take a fulltime position within the club in a multifaceted role which includes Director of Goalkeeping, Academy Technical Staff and Director of Communication for the new FC Wichita International Residency Program which has recently begun accepting applications for the fall of 2023.
Vargas was born in Somerville, New Jersey but moved to Alajuela, Costa Rica with his family when he was very young. He has four siblings including brothers Juan Pablo and Mario who also play professional soccer.
After moving to Costa Rica, Vargas played outfield positions for the academy of Liga Deportiva Alajuelense beginning at age 9 before becoming a goalkeeper at age 13. Shortly after Vargas was called into the Costa Rican Youth National Team at age 14. He went on to represent Costa Rica at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He played every minute of every match of both tournaments. He was called into the Under-23 team in summer 2015 even though he was not of age to compete with the team. He also appeared in five matches for Costa Rica during the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
At this time Vargas returned to the United States to pursue a college degree. Vargas would eventually elect to attend Friends University. During his lone season on the team, he made 16 appearances and maintained a GAA of 1.049. While at Friends University, he also played for FC Wichita's first team, who at the time was a member of the National Premier Soccer League. During the 2015 season, Vargas made 14 appearances for the club, as he recorded 6 shutouts and maintained a .79 goals against average. That season, he also helped FC Wichita claim the NPSL South Central Conference title in the club's inaugural season. Following the season, various teams inquired about signing Vargas including Major League Soccer clubs Columbus Crew SC, D.C. United, FC Dallas, and Sporting Kansas City.
"Everyone around the team back then knew Mauricio was a special talent and many of us have followed his amazing career," said Blake Shumaker, FC Wichita CEO. "Thinking back to some of the most impactful players and people who've come through the club over the years, Mau is certainly among the top of both those lists, we're very fortunate to have him here as a role model for young players and aspiring goalkeepers."
In December 2015 it was announced that Vargas had signed his first professional contract, joining the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the United Soccer League, the affiliate of the Columbus Crew SC. Vargas made his professional debut for the club on 14 May 2016 in a 0–1 defeat to FC Cincinnati in front of a crowd of 23,375, a league record at that time. His performance in the match, which included saving eight of nine shots faced, earned Vargas USL Team of the Week honors.
"It's exciting to be back in Wichita. I have only good memories of my time at FC Wichita and I'm grateful for what the club did for me at the beginning of my career," said Vargas. "I'm looking forward to helping our players grow on and off the field in pursuit of their dreams."