Only five players from each region are selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) as All-Americans and, this year, Indian River High School’s Johan Cordoba is one of them.
Not only was the senior forward named a First Team All-Conference selection, as well as a Blue-White All-Star selection and to the DIAA All-State Top XI team, but last week, coaches from across the state voted to honor Cordoba with one of the most prestigious accolades in Delaware high school soccer.
“I was very happy when I found out that Johan had been recognized,” said IR head coach Steve Kilby.
“I went into the All State meeting under the premise of putting Johan up for the Coaches’ Top XI Team — it’s a difficult task; there’s always more upstate coaches than there are downstate coaches. You figure, Sallies, they’re putting up four or five guys for that team, and here’s little Indian River again looking to get some recognition for a player that’s very deserving of it.”
“When Kilby called me down and told me, I was pretty excited,” said Cordoba. “The whole team put up as much effort as I did this season. I think that without them I wouldn’t have gotten it.”
Cordoba led the Indians with 20 goals and 17 assists this season, helping his squad to a 13-3 record while he and the senior class earned their fourth straight Henlopen Southern Division title, third overall and second straight Henlopen Conference title, and third state championship appearance, while collecting two state championship rings during their careers.
He was named the No. 1 player in the division, and joins IR soccer legends including Brooke Beam (2015), Caitlin Forte (2011) and Victor Cuenca (2011) as Indians named Regional All-Americans.
Notably, Cordoba notched the game-winning goal twice during this year’s playoff run — once against Caravel in the quarterfinals and the other in the second overtime period in the semi-finals against St. Georges.
He’s also become well-known for his signature footwork, which he said was inspired by watching professional players, putting in the practice and executing in game situations.
“I like watching players do crazy stuff like that. Like Neymar, I’m really fond of the way he plays, his style,” said Cordoba of his influences, who include Brazilian soccer prodigy Neymar da Silva Santos. “Sometimes it helps, because it really throws off defenders. I practice it a lot so it just comes naturally at that point.”
A member of the original “Frankford Crew” and having grown up playing for River Soccer Club, Cordoba leaves a legacy, along with his fellow seniors.
“They’ve got a legacy that not many sports program in Southern Delaware can claim,” said Kilby. “They made it to three finals and won two. That alone is huge, and then you look at the program overall...”
“We always hoped for that. We worked hard for it,” Cordoba said of coming up through the River ranks, hoping to one day win a state championship for the Indians. “I’ve grown really close to all those guys throughout the last four years, and I’m really proud of them.”
While he went on to say that he hopes that he can help inspire future IR soccer stars to strive for the same success — including his No. 1 fan, Charlie Kilby, currently at Selbyville Middle School — Cordoba is getting ready for his own future.
Currently he’s still in the process of figuring out where he’ll play at the next level, with several Division III schools expressing interest, including Lynchburg and Wesley College.
“Nothing’s for sure yet, but I’ve been looking at a few schools,” he said.
While he isn’t sure exactly what the future might hold, he is sure that, one way or another, soccer will be involved.
“The next step for us here is to help him, in any way that we can, find a home at the next level,” said Kilby.
Johan Cordoba 2016 season:
NCSAA Regional All-American
Blue-White All-Star Selection
First Team All-Conference
DIAA All-State Top XI