Helping solidify the midfield for a squad that finished second in the Big West and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament, Avila finished the season tied for fourth on the team with 11 points and tied for fifth with three goals – a performance that earned him the Big West Freshman of the Year honor.

“I would liken him to Ronaldinho from Brazil and some of the things he does with the ball no one else in college soccer can do,” Assistant Coach Neil Jones said.

Avila, a College Soccer News First Team Freshman All-American, joined with sophomore midfielder and 2005 Herman Trophy candidate Tyler Rosenlund to create one of the most creative and dominant midfields in the country. Rosenlund’s precision passing and Avila’s quick feet combined to shred through everything opposing defenses could offer.

“I think we connected well with each other,” Avila said. “I already knew where he was going and he knew where I was going. He helped guide me towards a good season.”

The San Diego native’s stellar play earned him a spot on the United States’ Under-17 National Team, when he appeared in 15 games. In March, Avila tried out for the Under-20 National Team and is awaiting the results.

“It went well and I’m in the pool,” Avila said. “Now I’m just waiting to see if I’ll be a part of the camp this summer. Part of my dream is to become a pro and play for my country in the World Cup.”

Avila’s quick feet and explosive step help offset his 5’9″, 140-pound frame. Playing against much bigger defenders, Avila is easily able to outrun his foes with his fast first step and often all his opponents can do to stop him is to foul him, setting up plenty of scoring opportunities.

“He’s a great dribbler and is an outstanding on the ball talent,” Jones said. “He has great skills and a great touch. No matter who is running at him he can get by that first player. Then another defender has to come on him and it leaves someone else open.”

With the departure of senior forward and leading goal scorer Ivan Becerra, the Gauchos will turn to Avila for offensive help next season. Rosenlund is one of the best playmakers in the country, but needs help from Avila to find the back of the net.

“He’s as good as anyone else,” Jones said. “He needs to build on his Freshman of the Year performance and we’d like to see him score more goals next year. If he wants to go to the next level he needs to start scoring goals.”

After coming to UCSB on the heels of a national championship game appearance, Avila and the Gauchos fell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, a disappointment to everyone on the team.

“We all wanted to keep going on through the playoffs,” Avila said. “I felt the passion for winning a few days after the loss and it motivates us for this year.”

Two of Avila’s three goals last season were game winners, coming against UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton in the same week that Avila was named the Big West Player of the Week. The Gauchos’ fifth-best scorer this year was sophomore defender Andy Iro, who led the way for Avila after being named the Big West Freshman of the Year in 2004.

“[Avila]’s a great person to watch if you are a fan of soccer,” Jones said.