Last week, Heviel Cordoves suddenly retired from Memphis 901 FC and professional soccer. Fans and players alike shared their sadness of no longer getting to see the talented striker play and also showed their appreciation for his time on the pitch. Now, a couple of weeks after the announcement, I was able to catch up with Cordoves, someone I had the pleasure of covering in 2015 with Charleston Battery and a man I now consider a friend. A trio of his former teammates during that season chimed in as well.
Cordoves began playing soccer back in his native Cuba when he was seven years old. In 2012, he, along with former teammates Odisnel Cooper and Maikel Chang, defected to the United States. The trio would start their USL journey together the next year with Charleston Battery. Two years younger than Heviel, Cooper explained to me what made “Cordo” a great leader. “He was the kind of leader that would encourage you and push you to do it better the next time. He will yell when he had to and tap your shoulder when you needed it,” said the fellow retired player.
After some successful seasons sharing time with Dane Kelly and Romario Williams up top in Charleston, Cordoves would play a season with Richmond Kickers before signing with Memphis 901 FC this past offseason. “The USL has been a developmental league that grows and becomes more competitive every year. It has definitely been a great contribution to my career,” Cordoves reflected.
Former Battery teammate and current Real Salt Lake midfielder Justin Portillo gave me a scouting report of Cordoves. Portillo said about Cordo, “A really good forward. Someone you didn’t want to give a lot of room around the box because he would punish you..deadly strike with his left foot. Also, Cordo really loved the game and always had the hunger for the game.”
With a positive preseason in the books with Memphis, Cordoves was shocked by a doctor’s diagnosis of a serious, non-soccer related medical condition. He thought he would be able to play until he was 35 years old and was caught by surprise when his career came to a sudden halt.
Now, Cordoves isn’t sure what’s next. He said, “I haven’t made my mind yet. I gotta explore a little bit more to be sure what I want to do.” He said coaching could be a possibility in the future. One thing is for sure, Heviel is excited to spend more time around his family back in Charleston, including his two kids (9 & 12 years old) and his wife. “It will be very nice and productive to stay around and being part of their growth,” Cordoves expressed. “It definitely feels good after being away one year and a couple of months.”
Heviel has not only served as a father to his own children. A former teammate of Cordo in Cuba and with Charleston, Real Monarchs midfielder Maikel Chang explained how important the retired striker has been in his life in the United States, “Heviel has been a father to me for these years. Always giving me advice and teaching me to be a better person.”
The USL Championship community has been lucky to have Heviel Cordoves and I’d like to personally wish him much success and happiness in the next chapter.