My favorite youth soccer story of the spring comes from Birmingham, Alabama, where police officers responded to complaints about kids playing pickup soccer -- by joining the game.
“We get calls repeatedly on these guys playing and there’s one person who continually calls and kind of wants us to tell them to come inside. I’m not going to do that. Ethically, I can’t tell children to stop playing,” said Officer Jordan Burke. He pointed out that the nearest playground was too far the children, so they have been using a patch of grass in the parking lot area of a tractor equipment company that is fine for the kids playing there.
Burke posted a video of the police playing with the kids on Facebook with a note: "Please stop calling the police telling us to tell children to stop playing outside. This will be the result every time." (And Burke ensured WBRC news they only stop to play when call volumes are low.)
“When I was a kid, I had a police officer go out of his way to come play football with us, and it made a really positive impact on my life,” Burke said. “I hope it would kind of do the same thing for us considering most kids right now are raised to fear the police and that’s not what we want. That’s not what we need.”
“It’s really cool because they play with us and talk to us about being good,” 10-year-old Alejandro Martinez told WBRC.
Charleston Battery leaves Development Academy, cites high school ban
South Carolina's only U.S. Soccer Development Academy club, S.C. Battery Academy, is leaving the program after nine years, because of its inability to "consistently provide practice and game fields and the recent defection of players back to the high school or local academy ranks," reports The Post and Courier's Andrew Miller.
“We’re really hoping that we can come back and continue the Academy next year,” said S.C. Battery Academy executive director Clark Brisson. “We’re exploring some different options and hopefully we will be able to return for the 2017-18 season."
Shilo Tisdale, the coach of powerhouse Wando High School, said, "I know there are some kids at Wando that play for The Academy, so they’ll probably come out next year. We’re lucky, we have a good bit of depth in our program, but I think there will be other high schools that benefit a lot if they get some of their kids back. I’m all for anything that promotes the game. I think this will benefit high school soccer."
Oregon 15-year-old wins Sueno MLS 2016
Alan Gaytan, a 15-year-old Mexican-American midfielder from Troutdale, Oregon, won the 10th edition of Sueno MLS, the Univision Deportes reality show talent search whose previous winners include 2015 MLS champion Jorge Villafana and Gabriel Funes Mori, who plays for Mexico’s Monterrey and has been capped by Argentina.
Gaytan, discovered by scouts at the Portland Timbers trials, receives an invitation to join a Timbers’ academy team.
Gaytan was among the 15 national finalists who took part in the four-day national finals in Southern California that included games against local MLS academies while coached by MLS Technical Director Alfonso Mondelo, former Mexico star Luis Hernandez and USA Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda.
“Gaytan impressed us with certain details and high quality soccer subtleties,” said Mondelo. “His first touch along with his movements with and without the ball, as well as the intensity with which he approaches the game made him stand out.”
Villafana, after winning the inaugural Sueno MLS, joined Chivas USA’s youth program and played 86 MLS games for Chivas USA before moving to Portland Timbers, whom he helped win MLS Cup 2015 before transferring to Santos. Funes Mori joined FC Dallas’ academy before moving back to his native Argentina to play for River Plate.
SUENO MLS ALL-TIME WINNERS
2016 Alan Gaytan (Troutdale, Oregon)
2015 Baltazar Duran (Cicero, Illinois)
2014 Johnny Chavarría (Las Vegas, Nevada)
2013 Alexander Soto (Elizabeth, New Jersey)
2012 Armando Flores (Anaheim, California)
2011 Birnis Adames (Camden, New Jersey)
2010 Nelson Castro (Houston, Texas)
2009 Alberto Lopez (Aurora, Illinois)
2008 Gabriel Funes Mori (Arlington, Texas) and Briant Reyes (Downey, California)
2007 Jorge (Flores) Villafana (Anaheim, California)