Brian Sciaretta checked in with 24-year-old Florida product Alejandro Melean, who is enjoying a breakout year with Bolivian club Oriente Petrolero, which he joined in January and has starred with in the Bolivian league and the Copa Libertadores. Oriente Petrolero is in second place after seven games. Although it failed to reach the knockout stage of the Copa Libertadores, Melean saw action in six games (four starts) and relished the experience of playing in South America's top club tournament.
"It was the experience of a lifetime," Melean said. "I came into Oriente after they were champions in 2010. I wasn't really expecting to get much playing time but then the coach put me in as a central defender and he even played me at left back one game. Then there was a league game against Bolivar and that was the first game I played as a center midfielder. We won 6-0 and I had a great performance.
"At the same time we are playing the Copa Libertadores and playing against big teams like Gremio in Brazil, CPD Junior in Colombia, and Leon de Huanuco in Peru and it was just an amazing experience. As a player it helps you develop even more because you are playing against different styles of play with teams from different countries."
After playing college ball at Holy Cross in Massachusetts, Melean was unable to get an MLS tryout, so he went to Bolivia and landed a contract in 2010 with La Paz, where he was regular starter and caught the attention of Oriente.