Friday, February 29, 2008

BYU 2008 Tryouts Day Two

No pictures today, since I made an unplanned stop at the tryouts while dropping my son off for early morning seminary classes. I was only able to stay for 30 minutes or so, enough time to catch two rounds of 8v8 scrimmages. They play two scrimmages at a time, side by side on the indoor field, which makes it hard to pick out all the good stuff that’s going on—it’s awfully fun to try though.

The play was faster and more aggressive today. I was talking to one trialist today right after he’d scored an opportunistic goal on a rebound off the top bar (I don’t see him listed on the roster, so I don’t know his name). He mentioned the increased urgency as well saying, “People are more aggressive today, there’s always someone going for the shot.” Another observer and I thought the players looked like they were getting more confident with each other too, resulting in much smoother play.

I also spoke with Robert Grant, a keeper from Scotland, after the first scrimmage. He made a comment that must be common around the PDL, “I’m tired, homework just knocks me out.” It's got to be hard to juggle playing soccer and keeping up on the classes.

Bryan Black, one of the keepers I wrote about yesterday, was at it again this morning. He seemed to be holding his own, making a tough challenge during the second scrimmage.

Just before I left, I talked to Chad Sackett. He’s not looking forward to trimming the roster down to the 24 player limit. He also mentioned that they’d recruited three high school players to come out, and would have one more slot to fill from the other high schoolers who’d come out.

One final note, I was surprised at how international the trialists were. There were a couple of guys from Scotland, a couple from Brazil, and some from Mexico. It’ll be interesting to see how many of them make the team, and how that will affect the flavor of play this year.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

BYU 2008 Tryouts

My son and I hit the Indoor Practice Facility over at BYU at 6AM this morning to watch the first session of tryouts. It was really exciting to see 70-odd players there, everyone from returning players to high school students looking for a spot on the team.

After a quick briefing by Coach Watkins, the players were split into a number of teams to play a series of scrimmages. Two short field games at a time, plus players in other parts of the building made for a lot of soccer watching opportunities, but not a lot of insight from me. (I’m glad there were multiple coaches there to keep an eye on things and that there will be four more sessions to get everything sorted out.)

One of the players who jumped out at me immediately was #2, Bryan Black (he’s the guy in red in the picture above). Bryan’s a lanky keeper, who’s just come back from two year mission in Minnesota, “not a big soccer hotspot” he said. Bryan’s reach proved formidable to opposing strikers, as he did very well at stopping nearly everything kicked toward his goal.

Another keeper that stood out was KC, a High School Senior. KC was vocal and effective in organizing his defense, this was complemented by some very athletic play including a great diving, twisting save.

Even solid displays of talent in goal by the newcomers won’t necessarily lead to a spot on the team though. Returning standout keeper Brandon Gilliam talked about this being a tough year since there were three returning keepers. The upside to this is that BYU should be able to field an excellent stable of keepers this year.

There were good players at every position at the tryout this morning. Coach Chad Sackett said that with the talent here, the team was probably going to “need to cut three or four players from last year, returning players.” While we were talking about the quality of the trialists, I asked Brian Black if he saw anyone that impressed him, he replied:

There are a lot of good players here, so it’s not really that someone stands out as being good. You can see some little things though. The returning players are a little different too. You could field a couple of good teams with the players here this morning.

Given my schedule, I won’t be able to catch any more sessions until the final one on Saturday evening. I’ll do what I can to keep up on things in the meantime.

Other notes:

  • I saw a small crew from True Blue there to catch the tryouts and talk to some of the players, coaches, and hopefuls. I think this is a good sign for BYU soccer coverage.
  • I also talked to the guys working on a new website for BYU Soccer—it sounds like they’ve got some good stuff in store for fans this year. I’m hoping to start seeing some highlights up on YouTube.
  • The funnest competition to watch was between some of the keepers on the sidelines. There were a couple of balls caught in the rolled up side netting of the facility, and the keepers were throwing balls at them to knock them free.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Wow! I just found out that The Globe and Mail has started a soccer blog called "on Soccer". Their archive only covers February of 2008, while mine goes back to April of 2007. I'm guessing the just didn't know about my blog, but I'll pretend that they're just trying to flatter me.

Since they already have a "Globe on Basketball" blog, maybe they could rebrand their soccer blog to "Globe on Soccer" — just so people don't get us confused.

Friday, February 22, 2008

SYL players abroad

The USL recently released a list of Super Youth League (SYL) players who will train with West Ham. It looks like the list was pulled together by SYL staff based on the players performance at the 4 day U-13 and U-17 camp held in Cocoa, Florida last month.

Here are the players, 10 field players and 2 goal keepers:

Justin Maheu F Ottawa Fury
Fabian Bastidas M Sunrise SC
Ryan Lehman M Atlanta Fire United
Glenroy Chapman D South Jersey Barons
Giovanni Freitas D Sunrise SC
Aaron Liang D Santa Cruz County Breakers
Alan Narvaez D Juventus Sport Club
Renato Pezzulo D Parsippany SC
Antonio Schneider D Chicago Magic
Sekani Sinclair D Schulz Academy
Cody Cropper GK Bangu Tsunami
Cody Mizell GK Atlanta Silverbacks

Given the presence of so many SYL and PDL players in the MLS SuperDraft, it’s probably worth watching these players over the next several years. It will also be interesting to see how many of these players end up skipping the USL and MLS to play in European leagues when they get older.

I’m a little surprised at the number of defenders on the list, but as the program continues through the coming years I think we’ll see other positions show up as well.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

An Open Letter

I've really liked James Edward's new RSL blog and wanted to pass along the news to James and a couple of the editors over at Deseret News to let them know about it. Unfortunately, the mail bounced due to 'content restrictions'. So I've decided to make this an open letter instead. Here's the message itself (along with the failure message from the desnews mail server).

  This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification

  Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

    jedward at desnews dot com

  Technical details of permanent failure:
  PERM_FAILURE: SMTP Error (state 16): 550 5.7.1 Message rejected due to content restrictions

    ----- Original message -----

  Received: by with SMTP id a13mr7307458wff.196.1203580103267;
       Wed, 20 Feb 2008 23:48:23 -0800 (PST)
  Subject: RSL Blog

  I just wanted to send off an email to tell you how much
  I'm enjoying your RSL blog.  I've really appreciated
  the extra coverage of the team during the FL segment of
  their pre-season.

  Too bad you can't make the Argentina leg too, it would be
  great to get the inside scoop on what's sure to be the most
  important phase of RSL's pre-season.  Hopefully you'll be
  able to get some good info from the team.

While I didn't write it in the original email, this seems like a good time to put in an additional plea. I'd love to see the blog (and the Deseret News in general) cover other aspects of Utah professional soccer as well. We're not too far away from the PDL preseason for Ogden and BYU, and it would be great to see them both get better coverage.