Soccer has taken Josh Perez from Los Angeles to Europe and back, but he'd never seen anything like the almost two-hour weather delay LAFC experienced on Friday against Houston. Not in Europe, and, definitely, never in LA.
"Never. Probably never honestly. I’ve never seen such a thing happen ever before in a game like that. Never honestly," Perez said following training on Tuesday. "The time that I was in Europe, stuff like that, rain or shine you play. Play until the pitch is filled with water and you can’t play anymore. But nothing like that."
The weather wasn't the only once-in-a-lifetime experience for the LA-native though. After earning his first appearance for LAFC two weeks ago in Chicago, Perez made his first home appearance for the Black & Gold as a stoppage-time substitute in the 4-2 victory.
As Perez stood at the touchline awaiting the referee's signal, fans from behind LAFC's bench called out the 20-year-old's name and applauded his imminent entrance. Afterward, Perez said the whole experience was beyond what he ever imagined.
"It was definitely a different atmosphere since all the times I’ve been in Europe. Coming in at Banc of California was really nice. It was really exciting, filled with joy I guess you could say. Looking at fans, they were jumping and still singing even throughout the delay," Perez said. "Coming in through the last few minutes of the game, it was nice. It was really nice. A different atmosphere for sure."
Perez said he celebrated with his family and wife after the match, calling the moment "special for all of us." Asked if he heard any of shouts from fans calling out his name in anticipation of seeing the local kid from Montebello make his debut, Perez shook his head.
"With all the fans screaming and stuff, you can't really hear that. I was so focused on the game also," Perez said.
"But hearing that makes me feel really good. Makes me want to show a lot more."