Santa Clara’s SC Sporting 00s Boys 15U Soccer Team Departs For the USYS National Championships With High Hopes.
By KRISHNA GOMATAM | Contributor
Summer is widely viewed as a time to relax, kick back, and enjoy one’s self. School’s out, and it’s a time for many kids to get lazy.
But a group of sixteen Bay Area boys have a much bigger goal this summer than to win their favorite video game or binge-watch every season of Game of Thrones. They’re heading to Frisco, Texas, to seek a second consecutive title in the 2016 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.
That group of boys comes in the form of the Santa Clara Sporting 00s, the 15U elite team from the very competitive South Bay club. Last year, the team qualified for Nationals in the 14U division, and took it all the way, beating a team out of Colorado to win the national title.
This year, they return the same group of boys, brimming with confidence and hungry for another championship. However, they will not enter the tournament as the favorites when play begins on July 26. The team has lost three key players to injuries in David Hernandez, Abel Flores, and Daniel RodriguezGonzalez, all whom will not be on the roster for the national tournament.
Head coach John Azevedo, while disappointed that the team will be shorthanded, knows that the rest of the boys will step up and perform well, even without some of their leaders.
“We have team captains, but the nice thing about this team is that everyone works well together,” Azevedo said. “They all just want to win and compete.”
The team barely got past Rio Rapids of New Mexico in an overtime match that decided the Far Wester Regional championship. SC Sporting’s first game in the national tournament will be against McClean, a talented team from Virginia that has plenty of national stage experience.
Azevedo, who has been with these boys for the past five years, is confident in his team. Still, knows that it will be a difficult matchup against McClean given the injuries they have suffered.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Azevedo said. “Losing three guys is tough, so this is going to be a good test to see where we’re at as a team. It should be a good game.”
After pool play concludes on July 28, the top two teams from each pool will advance to a four-team bracket leading to the championship match on July 31.
Win or lose, Azevedo hopes that this experience will benefit his team in other ways.
“Many of my boys want to play in college and beyond, so this will be a nice challenge for them as they try to prove themselves,” Azevedo said.
The team has been preparing intensely for the tournament, practicing three times a week instead of the normal two practices, to get ready for the grueling week ahead as well as the scorching weather in Texas.
When these boys return from Frisco and are asked how they spent their summer, they can simply say, “I played for a national championship. How about you?”
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