Silicon Valley Ambassadors gearing up for Friday's season opener

Ready or not, the Silicon Valley Ambassadors will launch their inaugural season this Friday at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

Although the area's newest minor league soccer team has been preparing for the season since last winter, the opener has come up awfully fast.

"I'd like a little more time to prepare, but I'd guess everyone else in the league would, too," Ambassadors head coach Joe Silveira said.

But a majority of the Ambassadors' opponents in the Premier Development Soccer League (PDSL) aren't starting from scratch. Friday's foe, the visiting Central Coast Roadrunners, have won two straight national titles.

"They obviously have some quality players who have probably played together over the last few years, which is key," Silveira said.

The Ambassadors, on the other hand, made their final cuts just two weeks ago, and Silveira said the 18 team members are still learning to play together.

"We've got guys from all over the area and we're trying to get them on the same page," the coach said. "We still need to find team chemistry and that sometimes takes all season."

Midfielder Kris Menzel, a Los Altos resident, shares Silveira's concern.

"We have to get that chemistry," said Menzel, who starred at De Anza College last fall. "But we're working at it, and I think it's getting better with every practice."

But chemistry isn't the team's only worry. The Ambassadors may have to play the opener without some key players.

Midfielder Rafan Kaba of France and striker Mugurel Dumitru of Romania last week were still trying to get international clearance from their respective soccer federations.

"We hope to have them ready," Ambassadors general manager Silvian Centiu said. "They are probably our best players."

One player who definitely won't be on hand for the opener is goalkeeper Dominic Jakubek, who's trying out for a first-division team in his native Poland.

And four players from Santa Clara University will miss at least the first game because their college season is in progress.

Despite the fact that the Ambassadors will be undermanned, Silveira believes Friday's game will be a good measuring stick for his club.

"It's an opportunity to play the defending champ and see where we're at," the coach said. "I think it will be good for us."

And how vital is opening the season in the win column?

"It's always important to get off on the right foot," Silveira said. "I've never heard a team complain about winning its first game."

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