The 2018 season was a strange one for Jorge and Jose Orellana.
For roughly a decade, the twin brothers have been a defensive force on the soccer field, a stretch that began in 2009, when they starred on the Bakersfield-based U-11 Central California Blues, a team that went 14-0 while outscoring its opponents 79-2.
From there, it became rare to ever see one of the Orellana twins on the soccer field without the other. The duo starred together at Independence High School and also spent six years with the Los Angeles Premier FC squad, traveling to play in tournaments in Orlando, Fla., and Spain among other places.
It was only natural that the pair would want to stay together in college. So when each received a scholarship to play at Division II Cal State Los Angeles, they jumped at the chance to join a strong Golden Eagle team that went 14-5-3 during their freshman season.
And while team success continued in their second year in the program, an injury caused the first long-term separation in the duo’s playing career.
Eight games into his sophomore campaign, Jose sustained a tibia fracture that ended his season. While the team still managed a 15-3-3 finish, Jorge, a defender, says the rhythm of the defense changed with his midfielder brother out of the lineup.
“It was a pretty awkward experience not playing together, not traveling together,” Jorge said. “Playing together is a big part of our game. It was pretty uncomfortable.”
The discomfort almost became permanent heading into 2019. Stuck in a cast and looking at a rehab process of more than six months, Jose gave serious consideration to giving up soccer, concerned he wouldn’t be able to return to form following a serious injury.
“This season, I didn’t even want to play,” he said. “It was a real struggle. I was scared coming back.”
Luckily, coaches and family members, chief among them his twin, helped keep Jose on track with his rehab. After easing into the lineup early on, he saw his minutes increase gradually until he found himself back at full strength roughly a month into the season.
“I’m glad they pushed me to get back, because it was a crazy season,” Jose said.
That crazy season saw the Golden Eagles get all the way to the D-II National Championship Game behind a stout defense, one where the brothers played a key role.
In 23 games, the Golden Eagles allowed just 10 goals, the second lowest total in the country. They pitched 15 shutouts and even had a five-game stretch where they didn’t surrender a single goal.
To this point, the only time you were likely to see Jose and Jorge competing against each other in a soccer match would have been if they were going head-to-head in the popular FIFA video game series. But in roughly a year’s time, that may begin change.
When they finish college, the brothers are both planning to hire agents with the hope that it leads to professional careers. Without having a direct say in where they play, the pair seems equal parts nervous and excited about the possibility of playing against each other.
“Our goal is to be professional soccer players,” Jorge said. “Even if that takes us apart. If we ever go professionally against each other, it’ll be an amazing game.”
The Orellana’s aren’t planning ahead too much, though, as there’s still business to attend to at the collegiate level.
After getting all the way to the title game without a loss, CSULA was unable to finish off an unbeaten season, dropping a 2-0 final to national champion Charleston (W.V.). The loss marked only the second time all year the Golden Eagles allowed multiple goals in a game.
With one last chance to bring home a championship, the brothers are eager for an opportunity to end their time together on a the highest note possible.
“Even though we had a historic season, we still ended up short,” Jorge said. “We didn’t win anything. And that’s going to give us the motivation to come back harder to win everything.”