Marley Canales has excelled on the youth levels for the U.S. Women’s National Team and for UCLA.
The World Cup-winning USWNT has numerous superstars, some of them on the upswing and others moving towards the end of their international careers. UCLA junior midfielder Marley Canales is a part of the next generation working their way towards making a senior team impact. She has played for U-17, U-18, U-20, and U-23 squads, including in the 2016 FIFA U-20 World Cup where the United States finished fourth. “To represent my country internationally is one of the greatest privileges,” Canales said. “I am so honored every time I get to wear the crest because it represents so much more than myself. My most prideful memories are being able to wear the crest and hear the national anthem.” She especially looks up to Julie Ertz as she stated, “Being a midfielder, her tenacity, vision, and distribution are a few of her key elements that I admire and try to emulate into my game.”
While she may be a future key player for the senior national team, Marley currently stars for the UCLA Bruins. She has three goals and two assists in nine matches so far this season for the 6-2-1 side. “I think the sky is the limit for this team. We are so talented in every position and have already created great chemistry,” she said. “This is a very special group of girls and we are taking everything one game at a time. We are focusing on growing, learning and improving every chance we have, to set us up for success later in the season.”
“Being at UCLA, anything other than winning a National Championship, we consider coming up short. So we are determined and focused to make this a great year.” She sent the Bruins to the championship match back in 2017 with her penalty kick, where they came up short against Stanford.
Outside of the soccer prowess, she decided there was no better place to continue her education than nearby in Los Angeles after attending Westview High School in San Diego. “At first, the destination didn’t matter as much to me, as long as the school was the best fit for me. But when I started getting closer to committing, I took one visit to Stanford, and then UCLA. After my visit to UCLA, I knew this was the perfect school for me,” she said. “It had everything I wanted and needed in a school and soccer team, and staying only a few hours from home, made it the absolute perfect situation for me. I love being a part of this team and school, and I am so blessed to be able to have my parents attended almost every single game.”
Soccer has been a big part of her family for years. “My dad had played soccer all his life, and my older sister did as well, so soccer quickly became a family love and event,” Marley said. “I started playing soccer when I was 3 years old, but I believe I truly started to love the game when I was about 10. When you’re young, it’s fun to run around and have snacks at half time. But around when I was 10, I really dove into it. I have always loved watching soccer. But I think I started to realize that I wanted to commit to it and give the sport everything I had. I wanted to set high goals for myself and do everything I could to achieve them.
When I asked who her favorite players were in the past, she answered, “I grew up watching Ronaldinho, Iniesta, Xaxi, Marta, and Steven Gerrard. I was huge fans of all of these players, because of the technical ability, vision, and leadership.”
Legendary athletes also impact her current number of 23. She said, “I chose #23 when I was 17 in my last two years of club. I was #10 almost my whole life, but I felt that it was time for a change and #23 came to mind. When I think of number 23, I think of Michael Jordan, David Beckham, and Lebron James. All craftsmen of their sport. #23 resembled, hard work, determination, and desire to be the best.”
After dropping their Pac-12 opener against Cal last week, Marley and the Bruins will look to bounce back on Thursday when they travel to Tucson to play the Arizona Wildcats, who are currently 6-2. Kickoff is set for 7 PM Pacific Time and the match will be live on the Pac-12 Network.