As he sat in a Stockton hotel room in mid-September, Carlos Armendariz was all smiles as he received an offer he knew he couldn't accept.
While preparing for a road matchup with Pacific, Armendariz, a sophomore midfielder for the Cal State Bakersfield men's soccer team, was informed he was one of just four athletes who'd received an invitation to try out for United States Men's National Futsal Team in Philadelphia.
If selected, he would join the roster for the 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania.
Futsal, a fast-paced, five-on-five indoor version of soccer, has been a big part of life for the Armendariz family for over 20 years. Armendariz's father, Carlos Sr., began playing in 1995 in their hometown of San Francisco, as it began to spread in popularity throughout Northern California.
Carlos Sr. eventually participated in national tournaments in places like Minnesota and Georgia, before stepping away in 2008 to help his son with his own athletic ambitions.
Though soccer has always been the first love of Carlos Jr., he says the fast-paced nature of Futsal, which doesn't allow players to possess the ball for more than four seconds, helped sharpen his skills on the soccer field, while giving him a chance to show off his abilities on an international stage.
Thus far, Armendariz has played in three tournaments in Spain and even competed at the 2016 U17 International Futsal World Cup in Scotland, where he and the U.S. team took second place.
This exposure helped catch the attention of coaches from the National Team, who brought forth a wave of emotion in Armendariz when they told him he could try out for their roster.
"I got a sense of chills," he said. "It caught me by surprise and it's a big honor that I was able to get called up."
There was only one problem.
National Team tryouts are scheduled from Oct. 25-27, which would force Armendariz to be away from the Roadrunners for two late-season conference matches against Incarnate Word and Texas Rio Grande Valley.
While honored to be asked to represent his country, Armendariz elected to stay with his Roadrunner teammates, saying the decision ultimately wasn't a difficult one.
“We have a goal set here to make the second round of the NCAA National Tournament," he said. "And we need every player on our roster to be here to make it happen. It’s more important right now for me to stay with the team.”
After a 1-6 start, the Roadrunners picked up a little steam last week with a pair of conference wins over UNLV (1-0) and Grand Canyon (2-1). They look look to improve to 3-1 in WAC play when they travel to face conference co-leader Utah Valley Thursday.
Armendariz is currently tied for second on the Roadrunners with three goals and has played a team-high 814 minutes. This comes after a freshman season where he played in just three games and attempted only one shot.
Aside from helping CSUB on its NCAA Tournament quest, Armendariz believes there will also be long-term benefits to passing on the National Team tryout. Hoping to play soccer "until it's not in my hands anymore," he says staying in an 11-on-11 environment will better serve his aspirations to play the sport professionally.
Part of the sting has also been lessened by the fact that he gets to return to Spain this winter, where he'll compete with the San Francisco-based Futsal Without Borders in the World Futsal Cup in Barcelona from Dec. 26-31.
And though some may have viewed the National Team tryout as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Armendariz isn't one of those people. Having already proven he's capable of playing at one of the highest levels of the sport, he suspects there will be similar opportunities in his future.
“My confidence right now is super high," he said. "I did say no, but they called me up. And just being able to be called up by your national team shows that your name’s up there. It’s put pride in myself that I know if I keep working the same way, I’m going to get that call up again.”
He father says there's no reason to question his confidence.
Despite barely playing in 2018, Carlos Sr. says Carlos Jr. came home over the summer and vowed that not only would he get more playing time this season, but would also be named a team captain, even though he was only a sophomore.
Both goals were accomplished, a common theme that Carlos Sr. believes will continue in his son's athletic future.
"When he says he's going to do something, he always accomplishes what he says," the elder Armendariz said. "Ever since he was a little kid, he's always told us 'This is my next step, I'm going to do it.' And he always comes through."