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20

Feb, 2019

Las Vegas Mayors Cup Experience

I traveled to Las Vegas, NV, with the VNA Ultra Red and and Ultra Blue high school boys teams for the Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup International Showcase soccer tournament, between Friday, February 15 and Tuesday, February 19, 2019.  The tournament overall was a great success. Out of the 8 total games played by both teams, we had a record of 3-1-4, with our only loss being a 1-2 loss with the Blue team in a hard-fought match.  It should be noted that the Blue team played in the U18/19 bracket, while the team was composed of a range of player ages between ages 14 and 18.  We had strong possession of the ball all weekend, and with few exceptions our players played with confidence, discipline, and joy.


When traveling, our boys wore their matching blue VNA warmups, with the coaches in similar style pink warmups.  We were an impressive sight traveling together, and many passerby took note of us.  One passerby at the airport in Las Vegas even asked if we were “a professional team or a college team,” to which I responded that we were a youth soccer academy, although we are associated with a professional club.  Our appearance combined with our players’ manners and respectful attitude made traveling smooth and enjoyable, and we represented the club well.


Upon arrival to the fields on our first game day, our players once again looked impressive and professional in their matching warmups.  Additionally, we coaches immediately laid out the cones and pinnies for the players’ warmup routine.  The players’ appearance combined with the coaches’ organization and planning made for an air of professionalism that the opposing team and other nearby teams did not have.  Within the first few minutes of our arrival and warmups, several college coaches (~3-5) gathered near our bench and introduced themselves and observed our warmup routine.  One college coach even asked “How’s the Yellow Submarine feeling today?”, indicating to me that our relationship with Villarreal has already had meaningful impact on recognition.    


Once the first game started, within the first 20 minutes of the game we were immediately inundated with college coaches.  Over the course of the game, at least (ten) 10 coaches approached us, and several asked if they could speak directly to our players.  I know for certain at least two (2) of our players spoke directly to a college coach after that game, and provided their contact information.  As the game went on, Jorge and I found it difficult to focus on coaching the actual game because of the attention we and our players were receiving from the college coaches.  At one point, Jorge even stated, very respectfully, “I am happy to give you my full, undivided attention anywhere, anytime, except when I’m coaching a game.”  The college coaches chuckled and understood, and waited to speak to Jorge after the game.  It was necessary for Jorge to say that, though, because of the sheer amount of attention our team and players were receiving from the college coaches.  Hilariously, the college coaches were stunned when I informed them that the team they were observing was actually our “lower” high school boys team, and that our “first” team would be playing later that day.  After saying that, each college coach asked for the time and field number of our Red team’s upcoming game.


During that first game, I made a point to look around to games going on on adjacent fields, as well as to the opposing team’s bench, in order to see if other teams/games were receiving the amount of attention we were.  They were not.  There were maybe one or two other college coaches sitting at corner flags with notebooks, but no other team was being approached so aggressively from college coaches as we were. 


Throughout the weekend, the level of attention our club received from college coaches remained high.  Jorge and/or I gave out AT LEAST one roster per game (for both the Blue and Red teams), and more often than not handed out several rosters to various coaches each game.  

Interestingly, we received the least amount of attention from college coaches during our wins.  This indicates to me that it is our players demeanor and playstyle which attracts attention, not necessarily the result of the game(s).  This thought was confirmed for me when a college coach told Jorge and me that “Your players play with such joy, they’re having a blast.  And they play beautifully.”  I truly feel that it is our culture of positivity and encouragement, in an environment focused on player development, that leads and will lead to the most success for our club and our players.


In sum, I feel the weekend was very successful.  Unfortunately our teams did not find success in terms of advancement through the brackets.  However, I feel that both teams played excellent soccer, and their success came in the form of the sheer amount of attention our club attracted from the college coaches, who recognized the high level of soccer that we play and appreciated our players’ attitude and demeanor when playing.



Contact

Villarreal Nebraska Academy, Official Partner Academy of Villarreal C.F.

333 Speedway Circle Suite #4 
Lincoln, Nebraska 68502

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 402-853-7100

Contact Us

Villarreal Nebraska Academy, Official Partner Academy of Villarreal C.F.

333 Speedway Circle Suite #4 
Lincoln, Nebraska 68502

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 402-853-7100

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