WICHITA, KS - The Wichita Wings announced today the addition of goalkeeper Mauricio Vargas, a 6'3 Costa Rican International.
Recently Mauricio Vargas returned to Wichita to take a coaching job with FC Wichita. The homecoming of sorts came nearly 7 years after his time as an outdoor player with the club, when Vargas left Wichita in December of 2015 for professional player promotion with the USL Championship Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
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. Juan Pablo is currently a starter on the Costa Rican World Cup side, scoring the team's second goal this week against Germany.
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, 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, who holds ownership in both FC Wichita and the Wichita Wings. "Thinking back to some of the most impactful players and people who've come through over the years, Mau is certainly among the top of both of those lists, we're very fortunate to have him here in the locker room and he will certainly be a fan favorite."
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 May 14, 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.
After receiving various professional honors in the USL it wasn't long before an offer to play in the top division of his home country was attractive enough to lure Vargas back to Costa Rica. Vargas would play 6 more seasons in Costa Rica, including 21 caps for Guanacasteca, 43 caps for Alejuelense, and numerous starts in the CONCACAF Champions League.
"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 making Wichita home again and am excited to learn the indoor game with the Wichita Wings."
Vargas is already beginning to adjust to training for Wings, which is made a bit easier with a few familiar faces from his 2015 FC Wichita team alongside him. "It's great to be back with Kevin Ten Eyck and David Lucio," said Vargas. "I know they are the kind of guys who want to compete to win for our great fans here in Wichita. They deserve a winning team and I am going to do my best to contribute where I can."
Wichita Wings Tickets. Both season and single game tickets are on sale at Hartman Arena box office (316) 744-8880.