Two teams from the Mountain View Los Altos Soccer Club traveled east this month to prove that the west is best when it comes to youth soccer.
The MVLA Typhoons Black (under-15 girls) competed in the Elite Clubs National League Finals in Richmond, Va., while the MVLA Vipers Blue (under-13 boys) participated in the National Cup XIII Finals in Greensboro, N.C.
The local teams didn’t return as champs, but their coaches were elated that they qualified for the nationals.
The Typhoons Black survived a rigorous schedule to make the tournament, playing games in Northern and Southern California, then New Jersey and finally Washington.
The national finals consisted of three games of group play before a last game deciding the finishing places for each team. After ending two games in a draw and one in a loss, the Typhoons played for seventh place Thursday. They fell 4-3 to the Minnesota Thunder.
The Typhoons reached the national level after winning their regional tournament in Seattle last month. The team went 3-0 at the ECNL National Playoffs to qualify for the nationals. The tournament concluded the team’s season, but the next one begins in August.
The Typhoons’ first game of the tourney against SLSG of Missouri ended in a 1-1 tie.
The next game, however, was much more of a challenge, according to coach Seth Alberico.
“Our second game was by far our toughest game,” said Alberico, who noted that opponent Maryland United FC featured fast forwards.
That style contrasted with the Typhoons’ possession game, according to Alberico, whose team was not at full strength.
“We were missing key players (due to) prior engagements,” he said. “We pretty much had two subs and the other (teams) had six to seven.”
The Typhoons, however, did not let the lack of players translate into a lack of effort.
“Being shorthanded, the girls here have done a great job and put a whole lot of work into it,” he said. “I’ve put them in positions they don’t normally play in, and they’ve done a good job for themselves.”
The Typhoons tied their third game – 1-1 against FC Dallas – ending any chance the local team had of capturing the national title.
Vipers finish 1-1-1
The Vipers, a team stacked with Los Altos and Mountain View residents, posted a 1-1-1 record at the national tournament and did not advance beyond group play.
Coach Rafael Soares had hoped that the grass fields in Greensboro would play to the Vipers’ strengths.
“My team is very composed. ... We will control the ball better on grass,” he said prior to the tourney. “I think we have a good chance.”
Soares had good reason to be confident after the way his team played at last month’s National Cup XIII West Regional tournament in Davis.
The Vipers claimed the regional with a 4-0 record to earn a berth in the national tournament.
Soares said the Vipers played at a high level in the regional. Standouts included forward Harry Allen and defender Ethan Briens, whose performances Soares described as “excellent.”
Opposing coaches took notice of the way the Vipers played, according to Soares. He said opposing coaches complimented his squad after games.
“They said it was OK to lose against us because (we played) real soccer,” he said.
Soares described the regional games as “tough ... and I don’t expect nationals to be any easier.” He expected teams in the central and eastern regionals of the United States to prove challenging due to their growth in the sport – and he was right.
“Soccer is very developed there,” he said. “NorCal is just catching up to them.”
Like the Typhoons, the Vipers pride themselves on winning with a team effort.
“We have a good, strong team,” Soares said. “We don’t rely on one or two players. We want the boys to work hard and play together.”
That teamwork continues off the pitch, according to the coach.
“We have a great group of families that always work together,” he said, noting that it’s the team’s greatest asset.