One of the most famous names on hand at the 2008 Disney's Soccer Showcase is three-time U.S. World Cup player Tab Ramos, who coaches the NJSA 04 Gunners, who are 1-0-1 after two games in their Under-15 Showcase bracket. The New Jersey team won the 2008 U.S. Youth Soccer under-14 national championship, capping a three-year run during which it averaged 77 games a year. Ramos, who founded the NJSA program with former MetroStar teammate Rob Johnson, talked with Soccer America about picking the right tournaments and right opponents ...
"The way it works on the East Coast, you tend to meet the same teams in the semifinals and finals of competitions such as the State Cup. So we participate in tournaments that require significant travel because we want to face other different high-quality teams. It's important to face elite competition and a variety of competition, even if it does mean playing a pretty rigorous schedule.
"It's important to choose tournaments carefully, because it's big commitment of time and money. The tournaments hosted by bigger clubs do a pretty good job of attracting higher quality teams. There are the types of tournaments, such as the Dallas Cup and Disney, that require teams to apply. They don't take every club that wants to participate, so you know you're going to an event that's provides good competition and the parents see that the money is well spent.
"One thing about the Gunners [who won the U-14 USYS National Championship], is that they did work as hard as kids of that age could. We played a lot of games and went to a lot of events, and it turned out to really help them play good soccer while also getting results.
"We do hope to be accepted into the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which won't require going to so many different event."