‘Pacific Soccer Club’ is proud to announce one of their alumni has been selected for one of the US Soccer Development Academy Squads for 2016/17. 11-year-old, Diego de la Riva first joined Pacific SC in November 2014. While he was playing ‘Extra’, our director of coaching, Grant Heywood was informed about a young prospect playing in Lake Forest. After seeing Diego play, both Grant and the ‘Extra’ coach, Tony Luce, agreed that Diego would benefit from following the AYSO player development path of moving up from ‘Extra’ to ‘Pacific Soccer Club’. Diego joined Pacific SC Laguna Hills and was coached by Grant Heywood until the team split earlier this year due to the new birth year changes. While Diego continued to play Futsal with Pacific SC, Grant Heywood saw his continual improvement and pushed him forwards to a US Soccer Development Academy Club for a try out. After a few weeks, Diego was selected and is now playing against the likes of LA Galaxy Academy and FCLA Academy on a weekly basis.
When Diego was asked about his experience with Pacific SC, he answered the following questions:
What do you remember from the training sessions at Pacific SC?
“The practices were very technical! We learnt a lot of ball skills and ball mastery. We focused a lot on how to receive the ball correctly, back foot control in particular. We also did a lot of rondos and positional possession games. Overall the sessions were very technical”
What do you remember of the style of play?
“There was a lot of passing and a big focus on building out of the back and keeping possession.”
Do you think the sessions and style of play helped you get to the academy level?
“Yes! The principles are the same.”
What are the differences and similarities between the sessions at Pacific and at Academy?
“They are pretty much the same structure. Both focus on technical skills, a lot of passing exercises and tactical instruction. Both sessions are very organized and move quickly from ending an exercise to starting a new one. Obviously the biggest difference is the level of the players but the coaching is the same.”
Our director of coaching, Grant Heywood, was asked about Diego’s development and questioned on his thoughts on player development.
“I am super happy for Diego. This is exactly what we are about at Pacific Soccer Club. Our main role as youth coaches is to help develop and guide children to their highest potential in the game and life. This comes down to the atmosphere created in and out of training sessions/games, the coaching provided in the sessions/games as well as the style of play implemented to help develop the players’ technical skills and decision making. We have an in depth belief and curriculum on player development which ensures that development will not be sacrificed for winning. We focus all aspects on developing the soccer player.
It is well known that a lot of youth coaches make the big mistake of spending hours on fitness without the ball and hours on set pieces. Set piece plays which will not benefit the players thought process, technical skill or positional play. We also believe that physical conditioning can be focused on as they get older since technique and game intelligence is of the utmost importance for youth soccer players.
So as mentioned earlier, our goal is to develop and GUIDE the player’s potential but essentially it comes down to the ability and work ethic of the individual player. Once we develop/guide players to a standard we feel is ready for college or USSDA, we graciously help the players by providing sufficient information on college programs or by contacting the local academy directors. Our benefit for the players wanting to make a USSDA squad is that we are not confined to just one. We will contact more than just one or two if we think they have the potential. I am confident that Diego will not be the only one but will be the first of many players in the near future to go through a sustained amount of time developing here at Pacific Soccer Club before moving on to the next level. Whether that be college or USSDA.
Just very recently a D1 college player was at the field during the summer getting in some technical training on his own. He came over to comment on how professional the sessions looked. He actually decided to join in one of the sessions and at the end gave the boys some great advice. His advice was “continue focusing on the technical side of the game since the growth spurt will naturally help with the physical part of the game. So for now, focus on getting more and more touches of the ball every day.” This was from a player that didn’t hit his growth spurt so early and it wasn’t until his senior year at high school that he was selected for a USSDA squad. He stated that the years focusing on technical skills is essentially what has got him his place at a D1 college.
Players are within a professional development program at Pacific SC that provides quality training sessions, futsal and skills development training. If our players are not at the USSDA level just yet, they are definitely in a professional environment to continue developing and improving their game.”