Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Team Names

Over at the Soccer Insider Steve Goff wrote (quoting Don Garber):

As for the push in Seattle to name the club the Sounders — something that MLS adamantly opposes — Garber said: “The good thing about team branding is that it involves a lot of people and there are passionate views on different sides of the issue. I believe our league and the sport has come so much further than the days of the NASL. While we have the name ‘Earthquakes’, I am very focused in trying to have our teams look forward as opposed to look back. That’s not taking away from the value of the ‘Sounders’ ... I think there is tremendous history there and a very passionate fan base but I am thinking about what this team is going to be 20 years from now or 50 years from now because that’s how long team brand names should exist.”

The club will allow fans to vote for the club name: Seattle Republic, Seattle Alliance or Seattle FC.

Say what?!? The Sounders name goes back to 1974 … so that’s 34 years of history. How in the world can someone claim (with a straight face) that ‘the Seattle Republic’ or ‘the Seattle Alliance’ positions a team better for the future than ‘the Seattle Sounders’? Throwing away the history and goodwill of the Sounders name is just silly. To choose names like Alliance or Republic instead seems even worse. I guess the good news is that if they choose Seattle FC, the fans can always use the Sounders as a nickname.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

USL Updates

I just saw a couple of articles that update my recent posts on SYL players training with West Ham and BYU’s new soccer facility. In the interest of keeping people informed, here’s what I found:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New BYU soccer facility

Wow! You go away for a week to take a boring HP class (in beautiful San Jose, there are always upsides) and what happens? News of the new BYU soccer facility breaks, of course. On Monday, March 10th at noon, BYU is breaking ground on their new soccer facility. This is really just an expansion of the existing South Field, and will be used by the men's and women's soccer teams as well as the lacrosse team (for televised matches). The worst part of the whole thing is that I'm going to be at work when it happens — sigh — at least I'll be able to watch the progress, and catch some games in the new stands.

Monday, March 3, 2008

2008 BYU Tryouts (Day Three)

Coach Watkins stopped me on Friday evening and told me I didn’t want to miss the Saturday evening (and final) session of the tryouts. He told me the competition was intense and there would be a lot of great soccer on display. With a teaser like that, how could I stay away.

The first two rounds of cuts took the pool of players from eighty-five down to fifty, and by the end of Saturday night, it would have to be trimmed to twenty-five plus six incoming freshmen. After warming up, the players were divided into groups that would scrimmage on a full sized field.

This provided a different look at the players than the reduced field 6v6 games I’d seen up to that point. Some of the players that had looked dangerous on the smaller fields didn’t seem to bring the same presence to the bigger pitch. The palyers with real class continued to shine though.

After two scrimmages, the coaches pulled out twelve players to rotate through a very fast paced series of 3v3 scrimmages on a 1/4 sized field. These were the players on the cusp and they played like they knew it. Jukes and step-overs alternated with blistering shots on goal, quick tackles, and rapid fire passes. Players would come off the field, sweat-soaked, after 5 minutes.

KC John, a high school goal keeper was relegated to the sidelines due to regulations about how many days of tryouts the high schoolers could take part in. He watched the play intently. When I asked him what he thought about it, he responded, “This is just sick, there’s so much going on out there … I just wish I could be out there playing.”

Listening to the returning players on the sidelines I heard the same kind of comments—“Did you see that?” ... “I can’t believe he got that shot off” ... “Wow! That was a rocket.” ... “Did you see that save? How’d he stop that?”

Interspersed among their appreciative comments came an almost constant stream of advice—“Take your shot.” ... “Play into space.” ... “Watch the open man. Pass! Pass!”

The scrimmage also brought out one of the scariest moments of the night, when one of the veteran keepers took a blast of a shot to the face. He dropped immediately, and stayed down for what seemed like forever before being assisted off the pitch by the trainer. Fortunately he was up and around by the end of the session, looking just fine.

There were a number of injuries during the evening. By the time the coaches went off to huddle over their selection process, I counted eight players iced, wrapped, or hobbling around to various degrees. None of them looked too serious but I did overhear comments about not being able to run for a while.

More painful than the injuries though, was watching the final cut. The coaches walked through the crowd of players to post the roster on the doors of the facility, and as they moved away the players moved forward looking to see who’d made the cut. Nearly half of the fifty players who’d started the evening went away disappointed. A couple of the trialists that I’ve been watching survived, two more made a ‘reserve list’, my term, and will in place to join the team later in the year in response to missions, graduations, or other circumstances.

This was my first year of watching tryouts. I was really impressed with the level of play, the camraderie between players, and the kind of effort required of the coaching staff. If you’ve got a PDL team near you, go check out their tryouts—it’s a great way to get a pre-season soccer fix.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

BYU 2008 Tryouts Day Two (Evening)

I ended up catching a bit of the evening session of the tryouts on Friday. At this point, the tryout roster had been trimmed by over 20 players (there are still some big cuts to go though). I was really happy to see that KC, Bryan, and Robert (the three keepers I’d noticed Thursday and Friday morning ) were all still on the roster.

The scrimmages I watched were even more interesting than the others. At this point, they were playing one-touch ball and the player’s skill levels were showing more clearly. There were a number of good plays, and good players, but here are some that stood out:

  • Richie Bindrup (a returning player who earned PDL Team of the Week honors last year) was serving up some nice crosses and was very vocal in organizing the backline and midfield.
  • Ney Augusto Batista, one of the Brazilian trialists, looked like a solid target forward. He played with his back to the goal and made some nice looking shots, including a header that was just wide of the frame.
  • Saul Santos was another good looking forward. He seemed to always be making dangerous runs on goal and nearly scored on a bicycle kick—he beat the keeper, but it was cleared by a defender at the goal line.

I had to leave before the end of the session, so my notes are certainly incomplete, but I’ve blocked out the time to watch the entire final session. Coach Watkins promised that it would be the best session yet, especially the concluding scrimmage.